Tag Archives: PUB 101 Coursework

Concluding remarks and reflections from PUB 101

Essay #2

This was my seventh and final semester at Simon Fraser University, marking the end of a grueling five-year undergraduate degree. It certainly isn’t how I envisioned it ending when I first arrived at university in Ottawa more than five years ago. Aside from the fact that I had never intended on attending SFU or studying Communication, I definitely never expected a worldwide pandemic to define my final two and a half semesters of university. Still, things have somehow managed to come full circle to a certain extent, thanks in large part to this class.

I first made the trip across the country in 2015 to work toward a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University, with the end goal being to land a job as a sports journalist. My dream had actually been to attend Ryerson University in Toronto, but my application was sorely lacking when it came to a portfolio, so I ended up settling for Carleton. Now, with my undergraduate degree within reach, I finally have the portfolio I wished I had back then. Better late than never, I suppose.

When the time came to decide on a blog category for this website in September, I didn’t need a second thought before deciding on a sports blog. It was what I had always wanted to do, but had no idea how to, or was too intimidated to try. With an idea to narrow down my topic by focusing on Canadian sports news specifically, Great White Sport was born. The tagline says it all: “All Things Sport in the Great White North.” I am only one person, however, and a busy university student at that. It would be difficult to cover all things sport in Canada. So, instead I have tried to focus on the most newsworthy stories each week, and so far I think I’ve managed to achieve that.

With that in mind, Great White Sport isn’t necessarily only for the diehard sports junkies out there. Ideally, anyone with any sort of interest in Canadian sports will find some enjoyable content on the website in a format and style that they can understand. I try not to get too technical or overload my posts with complicated information because my imagined audience so far has really been based on my own preferences as a reader. At the risk of sounding unintelligent or lazy, I tend to prefer sports stories that are comprehensive but easy to follow. By that, I mean no fancy statistics or analytical jargon that I have to spend ten minutes Googling to try and understand. However, that type of sports journalism seems to be fading away in favour of the heavily analytical. Therefore, I believe my website’s value lies not only in its wide range of coverage but also in its readability and accessibility to all types of sports fans.

I have also conceived of my website as more of a ‘personal cyberinfrastructure’ throughout this semester (Campbell, 2009). While Campbell’s argument on this topic is based around the traditionally rigid nature of academic institutions and their limiting of students’ creativity, the idea can be applied to journalism as well. As Campbell writes, “the freedom to explore and create is the last thing on [students’] minds, so deeply has it been discouraged” (2009, p. 58). In other words, there’s a formula that students learn, memorize, and regurgitate. Whatever work is celebrated by professors is what will be replicated (Campbell, 2009). The same can be said for journalism. What works is whatever sells, and what sells is what becomes the standard formula to follow. According to Campbell (2009), however, a personal cyberinfrastructure provides the opportunity to discover and craft one’s own desires, and to go beyond the expected standard.

Although it would be exciting and rewarding to have an audience to write to, what I value most right now is having a space on the Web where I can write about my own passions while continuing to learn and grow as a writer and publisher. Google Analytics has shown that since September 21st, I have had 69 users visit my site for a total of 116 sessions. Consequently, my greatest concern has been playing around with and developing a website that will be suitable to a larger audience in the future, should it get to that point. In that sense, I have treated my website as a ‘digital garden,’ inspired by Tanya Basu’s article on the subject. As Basu explains, “digital gardens … are frequently adjusted and changed to show growth and learning” (2020, para. 4). What makes a digital garden different from a typical blog is that it is not necessarily addressing a large audience (Basu, 2020). Instead, the focus is on cultivating your own content of interest over time, with the ability to add to it later on as you learn more (Basu, 2020). Although I might write with an imagined audience in mind, I frequently return to my website or specific articles to make changes based on what I have learned and what I believe will yield a better product, as inconsequential as that might seem.

This is probably where I have experienced the most growth as a publisher this semester. In September and the first part of October, I was sometimes spending hours on individual blog posts because I wanted them to be perfect. I treated them as if once I hit that ‘publish’ button, they were set in stone. According to HubSpot author Lindsay Kolowich Cox (2020), that is exactly the kind of mistake bloggers should avoid. She asserts that one of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is that they try to make every post perfect when the truth is it never will be (Cox, 2020). I have come to accept this while writing my more recent posts and it has been incredibly liberating. God forbid I make a glaring mistake that needs fixing, I know that I can come back to the article later on and make the necessary changes. Truthfully, this is a lesson I should apply to my life in general, but that’s a discussion for another time.

Looking beyond this semester, I’m unsure of the extent to which I will continue to blog and develop my online presence in the form of Great White Sport. I can say with certainty that this experience has helped me rediscover my passion for sports writing, and for that reason, continuing the blog is something I will consider. If I do keep it going, however, I think I will try to market it through social media in an effort to establish a real-life audience. Writing for myself has been a great way to get started these past two months, but as I mentioned earlier, my initial career goal was to be a sports journalist writing for other people. It seems a little daunting to put my work out there and open it up to all types of reception and criticism, but similar to Cox’s (2020) argument that good writers know when to stop obsessing and hit ‘publish,’ there comes a time when you have to take the leap and open yourself up to the greater public.

I’ve never been the kind of person who welcomes criticism with open arms. Not to paint myself as an egomaniac, but I have always wanted to get things right the first time and be recognized accordingly. As I prepare to wrap up my university degree and (hopefully) enter the workforce in a pandemic-stricken world, this class helped me realize just in time that there might be a better way to go about things. I have learned that perfect is not the only option. Sure, this was just a website I made for a class. But like everything else in life, there’s always room for learning and improvement.


Basu, T. (2020, September 3). Digital gardens let you cultivate your own little bit of the internet. MIT Technology Review. Retrieved from https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/09/03/1007716/digital-gardens-let-you-cultivate-your-own-little-bit-of-the-internet/

Campbell, G. (2009). A personal cyberinfrastructure. Educause Review, 44(5), 58-59. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/-/media/files/article-downloads/erm0957.pdf

Cox, L.K. (2020). 17 blogging mistakes to avoid in 2020, according to HubSpot bloggers. HubSpot. Retrieved from https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/beginner-blogger-mistakes

Pondering the pandemic

Process Post #13

Last week, we were treated to a guest lecture from Andrew McLuhan, the grandson of Canadian communications icon Marshall McLuhan, and the creator of The McLuhan Institute. Towards the end of his lecture, he challenged us to write a blog post about how messed up the world is right now. Challenge accepted.

As crazy as the world we’re living in right now is, however, I think what’s even more bizarre is just how quickly we’ve adjusted to this new reality and accepted it for what it is. Of course, we haven’t really had much choice. And I’m not one of those people that thinks we’ve had our freedom taken away or anything like that. I’m all for masks, social distancing, vaccines, and whatever restrictions keep us safe and healthy.

That being said, nine months ago, we were living completely different lives. I’d wake up in the morning and take three packed buses up to SFU Burnaby, and then take three more back home. I’d go for walks outside and speed right past people with no thought of their breathing and mine. I’d go to grocery stores without putting on hand sanitizer or wiping my cart and carry basket first. I even worked at Rogers Arena during Canucks games with 18,000 people in one building where I’d handle cash and pay terminals.

Now, if I’m somewhere in public and I see a person without a mask or ignoring social distancing protocol, I’ll automatically distance myself as far as I can from them. Even the other day, I was riding the elevator in my building with my mask on when two other people with masks decided to come on, and I swear I didn’t inhale or exhale for 30 seconds.

I’m supposed to fly to Edmonton in ten days to visit my dad for Christmas, and for the first time ever, I paid for my seat ahead of time. I made sure to get a ‘preferred’ aisle seat right at the front of the plane to give myself a little more room and make sure I wouldn’t be squeezed in between two strangers. Better yet, I’ll be able to bolt right off the plane as soon as we land. If you know me personally, you know I don’t like spending money on something I don’t have to. But when it came to buying my seat in advance, it was a no brainer. I’m still a little anxious about the whole process, but I’m willing to do whatever I have to in order to stay safe.

I could go on and on but isn’t it crazy to just sit back and think about how much our lives have changed? There are regulations and restrictions in place, but when it comes down to it, it’s up to us to actually follow them. And by and large, it seems that we are. Obviously, it would be great if more people were, but it is what it is.

Another thing I’ve noticed is when I’m watching TV or a movie that predates COVID and see a bunch of people in close proximity, I can’t help but think about how they’re not being safe. But like I said, nine months ago, I would never have had those thoughts.

I don’t know if I’m putting this into words very well, but my point is as crazy as 2020 has been, what’s most remarkable to me is how quickly we’ve adapted and altered our lives completely around this virus.

Understanding (or trying to understand) Google Analytics

Process Post #12

If I’m being completely honest, I’m not much of a numbers guy. I got by pretty well in mathematics in high school, but the second I realized I no longer needed it I left it behind and never looked back. If I’m reading about goals, assists, greens in regulation, serving percentage, and so on, I’m good to go.

But even in sports, when it comes to all the advanced statistics that have become prevalent in today’s world (e.g. Corsi or Fenwick in hockey), I tend to get a little lost. It’s not that I don’t want to understand what they mean, but my brain just doesn’t work like that.

So, when it comes to Google Analytics I have to admit I’m pretty clueless. However, I’m able to understand the basics that appear as soon as you open Google Analytics. Below is a picture of my data that has been collected to date since I first installed Google Analytics on my site on September 21st.

With 66 users total since then, I’ve only averaged just slightly more than one user per day, so obviously traffic is incredibly low which only makes me more confident in my decision to not want to monetize my site yet. Considering a good chunk of the visitors to my site are probably people in the class conducting peer reviews or Jaiden and Suzanne, the true number of ‘public’ visitors would only be more underwhelming.

In class this week, Suzanne mentioned that an ideal bounce rate is below 50% so it appears I have some work to do in that regard as well, but thankfully it’s not outrageously high and it is based on a relatively small sample size so far.

I hoped by creating a Twitter account and hashtagging my tweets with links to the posts I would draw some more visitors in and it seems to have helped a fair amount. Based on the screenshots below, 24 of my 66 visitors have come from Twitter, which accounts for 36.36% of all users so far. Part of that success is likely due to my retweeting those tweets from my personal account where I have over 1000 followers.

However, as you can see, the bounce rate from my Twitter referrals is very high at 88.0%, so it hasn’t exactly been a huge success story so far.

One thing that had bothered me up until lecture this past week was the fact that occasionally I would visit my website without being logged in to WordPress and would therefore register as a visitor to my site. Thanks to Suzanne showing us how to add filters, however, I was able to filter out my IP address so now I can visit my site without worrying about skewing the numbers.

I’ll continue to play around with Google Analytics in the coming weeks to familiarize myself with it in hopes that it will actually be useful for me as my website grows.

GIF: All seven Canadian NHL teams release ‘Reverse Retro’ jerseys

Mini Assignment #6

[video-to-gif output image]

In the spirit of all NHL teams releasing their ‘reverse retro’ jerseys yesterday, I decided to stitch together a GIF of all seven Canadian teams’ jerseys.

I individually downloaded the videos from each team’s official Instagram account and then trimmed and stitched the videos together in iMovie. From there, I went to ezgif.com/video-to-gif to create the GIF, and voila!

Incorporating feedback from the final peer review

Process Post #11

It’s hard to believe, but we’re soon entering week ten of classes for the Fall 2020 semester, and as much as it feels like we fast-forwarded right here, I also can’t help but reflect on all the progress made on my website until now.

This week marks the third and final peer review for this class, in which my peer offered some really great advice. Coming off the lecture on monetization with a guest appearance from Trevor Battye, my peer began with a few suggestions about how I could monetize in the future if it’s something I wanted to do. Although they reaffirmed my sour feelings about ad-cluttered websites, they did suggest that through some filtering, I could include sports-related advertising content or feature sports-oriented companies down the line. This is definitely something I would consider if I gained a big enough following, and I appreciate my peer’s confidence in something like this being able to actually work.

The next suggestion in regards to monetization was to consider asking readers for donations to keep the site running, which admittedly feels like a nerve-racking thing to do. However, it is becoming more common to see, and personally, I would never abandon a website for asking for money. At the worst, people would likely decline and continue reading.

In journalism, and sports journalism in particular, it has become somewhat normal to ask readers to pay for a subscription for unlimited and exclusive content, much like The Athletic has done since its inception a few years ago. Its staff has grown enormously in the past few years, at least until the pandemic hit, signaling that people were willing to pay for quality sports journalism.

In terms of monetization, my peer definitely provided some good food for thought for the future!

The next pieces of advice from my peer were centered around the basic design and functionality of my site. For starters, they suggested I reorder my menu order to have ‘Contact’ come last, after ‘PUB 101 Coursework,’ which makes a lot of sense now that I think of it! Thankfully this was an easy fix, with the updated menu pictured below.

The next suggestion my peer made was in reference to my ‘Contact’ page itself, where they recommended I install a contact form where people can contact me rather than having my website just floating out there for everyone to see. The link they provided was super useful and easy to follow that I had the plugin installed and published within minutes.

Finally, the last piece of advice they gave was to make my website secure using the Really Simple SSL plugin. Props to my peer for being eagle-eyed and to notice that my website wasn’t secure before. Once again, thanks to their linking, it was super quick and easy for me to activate and install this plugin.

Over the course of ten weeks, it becomes easy to look at your own website and be satisfied with its layout and features, so it helps to have a fresh set of eyes at this stage in the semester. Big thank you to my peer who provided some very valuable feedback this week!

Peer review #3: Masked Retail (maskedretail.com)

This week’s peer review will focus on a website by one of my classmates called Masked Retail, which covers many topics related to working and shopping at retail stores during the COVID-19 pandemic. The topic couldn’t be more relevant to our lives right now with case numbers increasing and the holiday shopping season upon us, so I actually really enjoyed exploring this website.

The website has a very clean design that’s aesthetically pleasing. The header isn’t overwhelming and adds a nice splash of colour to a simple, yet inviting homepage. I like that homepage draws readers in with a couple of simple questions before inviting them to browse the site to find the answers to those questions and more.

Masked Retail is also very easy to navigate thanks to its implementation of a standard menu bar. Moreover, giving users the ability to click just about anywhere (header, pictures, headings) and be taken to a page makes it extremely user-friendly. I could continue on about the positive features of this website, including the friendly about page and well-written blog posts, but at this point in the semester I think it will be more helpful to focus on a few specific elements that could benefit from a bit of tweaking.

With this week’s topic revolving around marketing, I’ll now consider the ways in which this website is marketable. As I mentioned previously, the topic is something that is relevant to all of us as consumers right now, so in that sense, it’s highly marketable. After reading the admin’s latest process post, I can see that she doesn’t feel like she’s in a position to monetize right now, which is completely fair. However, for the purpose of this week’s review, I’ll go over a few things that could improve the website from both a design standpoint and for potential future monetization.

As the admin notes, a site cluttered with advertisements isn’t their style, and I agree that it might take away from the tidy nature of the website. However, Masked Retail definitely has the potential to feature sponsored content or affiliate ads from specific retailers or others involved in the industry who might want to get a message out to a broader public concerned with safe shopping practices.

I understand that the admin doesn’t want to be identifiable on this website for privacy reasons, but perhaps as the website continues to grow, it might be useful to create a Facebook or some sort of social media page under the same name for people to connect to. That way, readers can stay up-to-date on the latest posts without having to check back on their own accord. This would likely increase traffic and improve the overall marketability of the website.

Another suggestion regarding social media would be to add shareable buttons at the bottom or top of posts that allow readers to share them with their social networks. The following website includes a few options for plugins that accomplish this. I just installed Social Snap on my website personally, and while you need a premium membership to unlock more niche platforms, the free version includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and email, which are useful.

Looking at the website’s contact page (below), it might also be useful to include a little message above the fillable fields that suggests why people might want to leave a comment or contact them. For example, they could ask people to contact them with any story suggestions, marketing/partnership opportunities, or just to say hello.

Lastly, I want to briefly address the post grid that the admin has included on their homepage and other post pages.

The use of pictures and a preview of the text within the post is great and gives the site a professional feel. However, when I loaded the site on my mobile device (iPhone XR), the post grid design didn’t transfer all that well. I’m no WordPress guru and don’t know exactly how one would go about making the plugin and site compatible with mobile devices, but it might be something worth looking into. Below are two screenshots side by side of how the homepage looks on Safari on my phone.

If the admin ends up tweaking with the post grid plugin to make it more compatible with other devices, they can use a website like responsivedesignchecker.com, which allows them to plug their URL in and preview the website at different screen resolutions.

Otherwise, this has been one of my favourite websites to explore in the class and I think it has a lot of potential going forward beyond this semester.