Crafting newsy Spotify playlists on #NewsEngagementDay

Happy National News Engagement Day!

Today in class, we will be breaking up into groups of three to curate 10 recent news stories and pair them with relevant, appropriate songs available on Spotify. Check out the Twitter hashtag #NewsEngagementDay and you’ll see what some of your fellow journalism students around the country are doing to participate. Last year, we made the national Top 10 list!

Here is your group’s mission for the next 70 minutes:

  • Come up with a fun, newsy name for your group! (Examples: The Deadlines; Off The Record)
  • THIS IS IMPORTANT: Take a look at #j4398 playlists (List #1 | List #2) from last year’s #NewsEngagementDay to get a sense of how your predecessors have combined news and music. Watch out for pairings that could be offensive. Also peruse our master playlist that ran on The Texas Tribune last semester. Previously used songs are off limits!
  • Plug in your headphones and earbuds and start browsing local and state news sources including The Dallas Morning NewsThe Texas TribuneKERA.org, the Fort Worth Star-TelegramWFAANBC 5CBS 11, and, of course, The Daily Campus.  Search on Spotify for songs that somehow relate to these stories.
  • 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.
  • Get together as a group. Settle on 10 songs for your playlist.
  • Divvy up the duties to write a couple of sentences 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 examples 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.
  • Oh, yeah: Bring your A-game! Your peers from Saint Louis University’s CMM 4100: Multiplatform Journalism course will rank your playlists and crown the winning #j4398 group. PRIZES are at stake!!

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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