Wednesday, December 31, 2008

JPROF celebrates fourth anniversary

The last day of the year holds a special place on the calendar. It's the day in 2004 that the site went live. Thus, we celebrate our fourth anniversary today.

The site has come a long way from that small study and cold winter in Emory, Virginia, where it was first conceived and built.

I had finished that fall writing the manuscript for Journalism: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How, an introductory journalism text, and had been working on the web site for the book that the publishers, Allyn and Bacon, wanted. The idea came to me that the book's web site could be broadened into something even larger (since the book was 26 chapters, the site for it was pretty big) and more comprehensive. I had a couple of other texts on the market at the time, so the idea of a site that concentrated on teaching journalism grew like a weed in well-tilled soil.

Then there was the name.

I played around with a couple of things and can't remember how the idea of "jprof" struck. I know I was after something short. When those five letters came together in my head, I checked on the URL availability and, to my utter amazement, found that combination available.

It was a sign. The site had to be built.

Four years later, the site finds itself at the top of the hit list when you do a Google search for "teaching journalism."

I have heard from people all over the world who have found the site and used its contents. I am grateful to all of them and to all those who recommend the site. I plan for it to keep growing. This year, 2008, was certainly one of growth -- some in ways that I never could have imagined when the site was first built.

First, we saw the publication of two new books plus the seventh edition of the venerable Writing for the Mass Media. The new books are:
  • The Writing Wright, a book of essays, quotations and ponderings about journalism, writing and the writing life, and

  • Kill the Quarterback, a mystery novel published by Bushido Press/Greyhound Books.
Both of these books have separate URLs, but the web sites are housed under the JPROF rubric. JPROF has also become the home for the Writing for the Mass Media web site in light of the publisher's decision to stop hosting web sites for their books (a decision I find odd and puzzling).

Bigger changes are afoot.

During the last couple of weeks, I have been developing a new model for a news web site based on the concept of link journalism. This concept posits that there is much good information on the web and part of the responsibility of a journalist is to bring that to readers through the power of links. An outfit in Reston, Virginia -- Publish2 -- has developed software that makes it easy to gather links, organize them and publish them on a web site.

So, what we are doing is taking the Publish2 software and feeding it into some specialty sites:
The next possibility is, which will deal with everything from gardening to agriculture. Other ideas are in the wings.

These sites are within the JPROF site but have their own URLs to make them easier to find. In the year 2009, we hope folks will show up. We'll be posting more about this idea and these sites in the coming days.

And there's more to talk about, but as usual, I ramble on too much already. So, it being New Year's Eve, party on!

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