Crafting newsy Spotify playlists on #NewsEngagementDay

Happy National News Engagement Day!

(Speaking of which, want a free week of the NYT Now app, in honor of #NewsEngagementDay? Help yourself!)

Today in class, we will be breaking up into groups to create news-inspired music playlists based on stories that have appeared in The Texas Tribune since Saturday.

Here is your group’s mission for the next 75 minutes:

  • Come up with a fun, newsy name for your group! (Examples: The Deadlines; Off The Record)
  • THIS IS IMPORTANT: Take a look at Tribune reporter Reeve Hamilton’s most recent playlist to get a sense of how he combines news and music every week, and to see which songs he’s already selected for recent news stories. (Previously used songs are off limits!)
  • Plug in your headphones and earbuds and start browsing The Texas Tribune. Search on Spotify for songs that somehow relate to stories/videos that the Trib has published since Saturday. (You also can draw from the TribWire widget on the TT’s homepage, or from its daily newsletter The Brief.)
  • Be creative! Have fun! Feel free to include songs that your parents and professors have never heard of! But it’s also OK (encouraged, even!) to include music from different decades and genres. (Reeve, who’s the pro at this, offers his tips below.)
  • Get together as a group. Settle on 10 songs for your playlist.
  • Divvy up the duties to write at least one sentence explaining the news connection to each song.
  • Appoint a Spotify-savvy curator to compile your playlist and a WordPress-savvy scribe to embed the playlist and write/publish your post.
  • By the end of class, each group must publish to the course blog a post containing: 1) The name of your group in the headline; 2) An embedded Spotify playlist of at least 10 songs, like the one above; 3) A brief explanation of why you picked each song, along with a link to the story it was inspired by; 4) The name of each person in your group, with links to your Twitter handles.
  • Last step! Each group member should tweet the link to your published blog post/playlist, along with the hashtags #NewsEngagementDay and #j4398. Explain it to your followers with some context — this can be your act of engagement for this week’s Power Tweets.
  • PRIZES!! Judges will confer in the coming days to award prizes for the best song(s) and playlist(s).

Remember these helpful tips on compiling a newsy playlist, created just for you by the Texas Tribune’s Reeve Hamilton:

  • The connection to the story should be clear from the title of the song.
  • If you can’t follow the first rule, you can explain why the lyrics work. But as they say in politics, when you are explaining, you are losing.
  • With exceptions, the lyrics of the song should seem applicable to the news situation if you use your imagination and squint a little. If this is just impossible, that’s ok. But before you settle, see what other options are out there.
  • The playlist should be listenable (obviously this is subjective). But if you are going to take the time to make something like this, make something people can actually get enjoyment out of.
  • Don’t take it too seriously (but do put some effort into it).


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