Social Media Release


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Contact: Stacy Cray                              Contact:This American Life, WBEZ
Email:                 Email:
Twitter: @StacyCray                    
Blog: stacyandjournalism            

This American Life: Mankato, Minnesota’s mass execution

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Mankato’s mass execution, the largest in U.S. history.

MANKATO, MN– This American Life’s podcast episode “Little War on the Prairie” with Ira Glass describes the hanging of 38 Dakota warriors in 1862.

John Biewen, Mankato native, talks about the events that led to the hanging and why this mass execution isn’t talked about. Many people have no knowledge of the U.S.-Dakota War or the details of the hanging.

Mary Wingerd, author of “North Country: The Making of Minnesota,” talks with Biewen about why the war isn’t talked about.

Biewen travels with Gwen Westerman, a Dakota woman and professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Westerman discusses her discovery of the execution and her family ties to the event.

2012 is the 150th anniversary of the mass excution. Several events have been planned this year to commemorate the event. The goal is reconciliation.

Mankato Reconciliation Park

Every year on Dec. 26, the day of the hanging, the Dakota 38+2 Wokiksuye Horse Ride from South Dakota to Reconciliation Park in Mankato, is done as a horseback ride of mostly Native American riders in remembrance. Smooth Feather Film Productions created a film about the ride, and the trailer is available to see.

Biewen went along for a ride across the South Dakota and Minnesota border. He describes the event and what it was like.

This American Life, a weekly public radio show, is broadcast on more than 500 stations. Chicago Public Media produced it and Public Radio International distributed it.

The podcast has won all the major broadcasting awards, and is the most popular podcast in the nation. A television version of This American Life was produced on the Showtime network between 2006 and 2008.


Hubspot Grades MSU, Mankato’s Website


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The Hubspot’s Marketing Grader gave the MSU website a current overall grade of 75. Hubspot says the website has 63% for the top of the funnel, 42% for middle of the funnel and 100% for analytics. Under the top of the funnel category, the three top actions are increasing blogging frequency, getting more people to tweet the information and getting more people to put the information on Facebook.

Hubspot explains several things MSU’s website does well. It says the university website has a blog with recent blog articles, and the blog titles are unique and shorter than 75 characters. It says the site has an RSS feed, and the blog is easy to find on the homepage.

Hubspot looks at the SEO, search engine optimization, on the website. It says search engines have indexed 1 million pages on the MSU site. The homepage has 17 images and 14 alt tags. The website doesn’t have any page titles that start with the name of the university. It has a mozRank of 6, which measures link authority and popularity. The site has been linked to 10,957 times and 25 of those are from authoritative sites.

There is a mobile version of the site. The university is also on Twitter, and its homepage has been tweeted 172 times recently. MSU has a Klout Score of 49, and the Klout Score measures the influence on social media. The business fan page on Facebook has 7,300 fans.

The top three actions for the middle of the funnel are adding an e-mail subscription, sharing links to landing pages on Twitter and replying to individuals to create conversations. The website is using landing pages to convert visitors to leads. All of the last five blog posts link to landing pages. The site has social subscription options. MSU is linking to its homepage’s social media accounts. The site is using Google Analytics to measure the results of the website. Each month, MSU’s site has 128,667 distinctive visitors.

Hubspot lists several things that could be improved on the MSU website. It says a new post is published around every 47 days. This should be improved because sites that publish posts 20 times in a month get five times more traffic.

The content on the blog isn’t easy to share, and the site should get social sharing buttons. The blog posts are not being tweeted or shared on Facebook. The social sharing buttons would help that as well. The internal pages need some work. There are missing page descriptions, and they aren’t unique to get people to click on the page.

MSU’s website doesn’t have apple icons or a meta viewport tag, which helps to adjust the page as it’s loaded. The average time between tweets is one day and 14 hours.

The site doesn’t use marketing automation software. There is no easy way to subscribe by e-mail. None of the last ten tweets were replies to other Twitter users. MSU’s Twitter handle was only mentioned three times in the last 24 hours. None of the last ten tweets link to a landing page. If these things are improved, the grade for this site will increase, and that will benefit the university more.

Mankato Professor Lectures on Increasing Followers


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A  professor at Minnesota State University, Mankato gave a lecture Nov. 12 on increasing followers on Twitter and blogs through headlines using Google keyword searches.

Ellen Mrja, professor of mass media, teaches a class on multimedia online writing.

Effective SEO, search engine optimization, is important in getting followers on Twitter and blogs, Mrja said.

Google’s keyword tool can be used to find words that improve Google search results, she said. An analysis of keywords provides information about the best words to choose, the professor said. A Google account is needed for access.

The adwords keyword tool allows a person to list search words others would use to find the information. The tool then lists the competition for those words in the search results, so the person can choose the most effective words.

Keywords in headlines, subheads, leads and the beginning of sentences help build blog readership, Mrja said. She suggested writing the headline after the story to be more objective and to describe the story better.

Using keywords increases followers on blogs through better search results, and the titles make better tweets.

Increasing Followers on Twitter

Building your reputation is possible, the professor said, through methods such as retweeting, linking to a blog and leaving comments on others’ blogs.

Don’t be a spokesperson selling information all the time, she said. Tweets should provide solid information and shouldn’t be all about one person, Mrja said.

Tweet after blogging and do so more than once so more people see it, she said.

The professor said people should:

  • tweet regularly
  • include a call to action telling others what to do
  • write tweets as headlines under 100 characters

Hashtags and links get others more involved and start conversations, which can bring more followers, Mrja said.

Story by Stacy Cray

Live-tweeting: Pros and Cons


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On Nov. 6, I was live-tweeting the Presidential election results on Twitter with others in my class. I just started using Twitter this fall, and I’m still getting used to it. Live-tweeting brought on a whole different experience from what I had done before. In a word, I would describe it as intense. I had never done any kind of live reporting before, so this was completely new to me. It was a great experience, and I’m glad I did it.

A lot of good things came about from live-tweeting. The information was coming in very fast. We saw all the up-to-date information immediately. With so many people involved, it also gave more perspectives on the results. Each person chose different sources to look at and had different ideas about what each one saw. Some even found articles that supplemented our reporting and conversation. I was looking at three online news sources and watching one on television at the same time. Our hashtag in the live-tweeting even brought in others to our conversation. I thought it was a nice way to be introduced to live reporting. I feel like I understand what broadcast reporters feel like to provide breaking news on the spot.

I noticed a few bad things in live-tweeting though. Everything was changing quickly. It was hard to keep up with all the information. I was so exhausted by the time I decided to stop, which was about four hours later than I was planning on. A person could burn-out very quickly trying to keep track of too much. Everyone was using different sources, and the sources said different things most of the time. Even though they were just telling their projections, I was surprised by how much all of the sources differed. It made me doubt the amount of credibility I saw these sources having.

As a whole, I believe this experience taught me a lot about reporting. It showed me the competing value of accuracy and desire to deliver the news first. Since I didn’t have a lot of reporting practice yet, this experience was great. It made me more aware of the necessity of checking for accuracy with multiple sources. It was also nice to have examples of reporting from online sources, a television source and others from class.

Considering all of these things, I think the pros outweigh the cons in live-tweeting. The practice this exercise gave me, in delivering good news fast, was better than the discrepancies between the sources, since they were just projections. Even though the fast-paced tweeting tired me out, it was exciting and fun to be a part of something that only comes around every four years. I also really thought that the pros of live-tweeting were better because instead of just reporting the information, you could also have a conversation about it. I saw how live-tweeting can bring in other people and get them interested in what we were saying. This can lead to more followers. I’m really glad I participated in the live-tweeting, and I hope to do it again sometime.

Five Places I Want to See



Five places I want to go and see in the U.S. are major landmarks. I’ve heard about them a lot throughout my life, and it would be nice to finally see them. When I think of America, they are some of the things I think about.

These five things include:

  • The Space Needle
  • The Grand Canyon
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • The White House
  • The Golden Gate Bridge.

Since I haven’t seen them, I feel like I’m missing out on a big part of our nation. I love traveling, and I hope to see these five places and then some.

How to Write Online Headlines


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We all know how important headlines are to a newspaper. However, they are more important for online writing. We live in a fast-paced world today and don’t have time to search through everything.

People choose to click on web pages based on the headline that search engines show. To get people to read what you wrote, you need to draw them in through a headline. After reading a blog post called “How to Write A Mind Blowing Headline For Twitter So People Will Read Your Blog” by Jeff Bullas, a social media marketing blogger, speaker and strategist, I can tell you the techniques that make great headlines and attract more readers.

Bullas’ headline examples include:

  • Get What You Want
  • Crystal Ball and History
  • Problems and Fears
  • Fact, Fiction, Truth and Lies
  • How To, Tricks of the Trade
  • Best and Worst
  • List

Get What You Want headlines show readers the article will tell them how to get things they want. These could be anything from relationships, health, money and way of life. Crystal Ball and History is a technique that lets the readers know you have ideas on what’s going to happen in the future. It could also tell readers you have the history of something and you’re going to share it with them. Problems and Fears headlines tell readers how to get rid of those problems. Fact, Fiction, Truth and Lies can be used for informing and making readers aware of what is true and what’s not. How To, Tricks of the Trade tells readers how to do something. An example of this would be my headline above. Best and worst explains the best and worst things a person could do for a certain topic. The list technique involves using a number. An example of this would be 7 Ways to Make a Great Headline.

Copyblogger Tips

A copyblogger article, “How to Write Headlines That Work,” describes some other techniques for writing great online headlines.

They include:

  • Direct Headline
  • Indirect Headline
  • News Headline
  • Question Headline
  • Command Headline
  • Testimonial Headline

In the direct headline, the writer gets straight to the point and tells the topic of the article. Indirect headlines take a restrained method using double meanings. The news headline clearly states what the news is. Question headlines should be used to empathize with the readers and answer questions everyone wants to know. In the command headline, a reader should be called to action. The testimonial headline demonstrates the writer has proof on what he or she wrote.

PRNewswire Tips

PRNewswire explains more headline tips in “4 Essential Tips for Writing Effective Press Release Headlines.”

The methods include:

  • Length Between 90 and 120 Characters
  • Keywords in the First 65 Characters
  • Use of Numbers
  • Subheads for Added Detail

With so much information available on the internet, making an article stand out to a user is very important. A great headline can be used to beat the competition for the reader’s computer screen. Headlines are usually what convince people whether or not to read something. Several techniques can be implemented to catch a reader’s eye and get more people to read your writing.

Important sections of the Declaration of Independence are the preamble, grievances and the pledge.

The Preamble

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.


He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

The Pledge

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Women and Spirituality Conference at MSU


The Women and Spirituality Conference features a nationally known keynote speaker discussing “The Gendered Politics of Food” at MSU on opening day, which brings 1,000 people each year. Registration is required.

Vandana Shiva will speak at 11 a.m. on Oct.31 in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom. Shiva is a physicist, author and international sustainability leader.

She founded Navdanya, a national Indian-based movement protecting resources and promoting organic farming. Shiva started an international college in Doon Valley, India for sustainable living.

She received the Alternative Nobel Prize and Earth Day International Award. Time magazine described her as an “environmental hero.”

Her books include:

  • “The Violence of Green Revolution: Third World Agriculture, Ecology, and Politics”
  • “Monocultures of the Mind: Perspectives on Biodiversity and Biotechnology”
  • “Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply”

Shiva is an expert on the biodiversity and “slow food” movements. She is also a critic of genetic engineering and biotechnology.

More than 100 workshops at the conference

The conference explores various topics in more than 100 workshops and discussions “through discovery, interaction, ritual and celebration,” a university-issued statement says.

The sessions with the best titles include “Nurturing Spirit by Embracing Inner Awareness in a Public School Setting” and “Finding the Balance of Masculine and Feminine Power: Astrological Keys for Healing Mother Earth and Ourselves.”

For a full list of workshops and sessions and a registration form, visit the Gender & Women’s Studies page. The Centennial Student Union’s lower level will have a drum circle as a free event.

By Stacy Cray

Meet and Greet with HTML


When learning how to write online journalism effectively, it’s important to know what a website is created with. HTML or hypertext markup language is what a web page is written in and provides data-sharing between computers. I found this out a few years ago, but I had no idea how it worked. Recently, I learned a few basic things that can help advance my online writing abilities.
HTML is used for text, pictures, video and audio, and it enables a person to view a web page in a browser. The browser understands the HTML code and creates the page on every screen. The language is fairly easy to understand because it’s text-based. To tell a website how you want something done, you must use commands.
To start a command for an ordered list, a person would need to type ol in angle brackets as HTML code. Then, the list wanted on the site would be written in text. The command would end with /ol in angle brackets to stop the ordered list. This format is used in many commands such as title, body, paragraph, head and heading size. The biggest heading size would be h1 in angle brackets, and it gets smaller in size as the number gets bigger, up to h6.
Different colors are shown on websites through mixtures of red, green and blue. The value given to these colors of light range from 0, none of that color is used, to 255, all of that color is used. This would appear as rgb(0,0,0) for black. The rgb stands for red, green and blue, and the 0 would be the color value from 0 to 255 for each of the three colors. Colors can also be shown through a hexadecimal notation (HEX). The lowest value for that is 00 and the highest is FF. The HEX values consist of three pairs of two. The color black would be seen as #000000 and white would be #FFFFFF. There are more than 16 million colors that can be made with different amounts of red, green and blue.
The HTML coding is always available for a website. If you want to see how a page is put together, click on tools in the browser. Then go down to web developer, and finally click on page source. It’s easier to understand how HTML is used to create the site when there is a page of it available to look at. This is a good way to learn new things about HTML as well.
HTML 5 is the latest version of HTML and the most major alteration since 1997. HTML 5 brings new things such as enhanced video and audio embedding, enhanced graphic support, semantic tags, geolocation and local storage. These are the reasons why the internet became such a huge thing and why it continues to grow and develop.
Understanding HTML provides a better knowledge of the internet and how journalists can use the internet effectively. As HTML has changed, the internet has changed. It’s getting easier and easier for each person to find anything quickly, and it’s tailored to specific needs. The internet is changing journalism through writing style, presentation of information and methods of obtaining news. With this fast-paced network of HTML, everyone wants the top news at every second.
It might change the future production of digital content. HTML code continues to get easier. More people will be able to produce digital content faster and easier, which means there will be more of it. HTML might even change my future. As I continue to learn more about how it works and how to use it, more opportunities will be available to me.
I would like to learn more about HTML commands. It would be great to know how to use and write HTML effectively. Then, I would be able to make my own website and design it how I want. Learning about HTML will help me to continue learning about online journalism.