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H1N1 flu on campus deserves college media attention


For any college journalists out there who are unconvinced that H1N1 flu virus is not a topic you should be covering extensively (especially online), I’ll just say that my site referral statistics might make you think otherwise.

This post that I wrote last Friday about the h1n1 coverage on a sampling of college media web sites has been viewed 362 times. Of those visits 183 have come from search engines, where people combined the term “h1n1” and “college” or a specific campus. That’s 50 percent of the traffic that’s come by that page. Ninety-eight percent of the search engine visits were from new visitors. And I wasn’t even writing about a specific campus’ troubles with the virus. That post was meta-discussion about coverage and online practices. (Standard disclaimer: This blog serves a pretty specialized audience, so traffic figures are not huge, which makes the spike in searches more noticeable and more of an indication that this is a topic that needs following)

As we get farther into the school year, we’ll likely see more h1n1 cases on college campuses. My guess is that the numbers will rise after labor day when a lot of students return home for the first time since school started. There are numerous ways you can expand your online coverage of h1n1 on campus, the least of which is including links to reputable web sites that track the virus like the CDC’s flu site, the World Health Organization, and the Flu Wiki.

Beyond that, there are tools like Apture (which I’m trying again with a WordPress plug-in for the first time since I wrote about it in January), Zemanta and Publish2 which will help you practice link journalism.

For instance, here’s a story from NPR that I embedded using Apture.

Beyond the obvious link examples, there are also videos, podcast interviews, and even interactive graphics that could be created. If you can get the information, it would be useful if you could generate a Google map of which areas of campus have the most cases, sort of like this h1n1 flu map of the world.

And if anyone sees some good use of online/multimedia from college media on this flu story, send it my way so I can write about it.

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