CONVERGENCE AND WRITING INSTRUCTION
By David W. Bulla, doctoral student
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And Dr. Julie E. Dodd, professor
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University of Florida
College of Journalism and Communications
G038 Weimer Hall
Gainesville, FL 32611
April 1, 2003
Scholastic Journalism Division
College media writing instructors are dealing with a recent phenomenon in
the media world: convergence. The researchers interviewed instructors from
universities and colleges from across the United States to determine how
they are dealing with convergence in their media writing classes. The
researchers discovered two camps: (1) innovators and (2) resisters. The
former work in programs that tend to embrace writing in a converged media
environment; the latter work in programs that have adopted a go-slow policy.
Thomas Kunkel, dean of the Phillip Merill College of Journalism at the
University of Maryland, says that journalism "is part skill, part craft and
part art ... However we elect to do it, we are obligated to teach our
students certain skills" (Kunkel, 4). College media writing instructors
perform a critical role in journalism education. As Dr. Edgar Huang of the
University of South Florida discovered, both editors and news professionals
place "good writing" at the top of skills needed to be learned by today's
journalism student (Huang, 13). Today's media writing instructors are
obligated to teach the fundamentals of journalistic composition while
coming to terms an ever-changing media world. It is a media world not
unlike the one described by journalists who covered the Kennedy
assassination and found that flexibility grounded in professionalism was
critical to their coverage of the event, since the news changed hourly if
not by the minute (Tuchman, 64). Today, because of the Internet, cable
television news, all-news radio, and the 24/7 news cycle, media
practitioners need a similar sense of flexibility. Furthermore, many media
companies are asking their journalists to report in more than one medium.
For example, John Marvel, vice president of ESPN.com, says that writing
across media platforms is important today: "I'm looking for kick-ass
reporters who can go across platforms" (Spiker, 2003). This need for
reporters who can tell stories in more than one medium is causing "the news
industry, journalists and storytelling itself" to adapt "top the behavior
of multiplatfrom audiences," said Andrew Nachison of the American Press
Institute (South et al., 10). Huang's study found that multimedia
production and new technology followed good writing as skills editors and
news professionals value (Huang, 13). This state of affairs has writing
teachers re-thinking the curriculum, and an emerging pedagogical question
is: How should instructors teach basic or introductory writing classes
given the realities in a converged media world? The purpose of this study
is to find out the ways that journalism writing teachers are handling
convergence in the classroom. It bases these questions on what professional
media practitioners are saying about what they think journalism teachers
ought to be doing in terms of writing instruction for a multi-platform
media environment. This is a qualitative study that relies entirely on
interviewing. Quantitative reliability, predictability and generalization
are not its goals. Rather, it functions as a representative sampling of
journalism writing instruction in an ever-converging media world. However,
there is no attempt to measure how representative. It is like wine tasting
in which the idea is to get an initial feel for the realities of current
media writing instruction. Its purpose is to explore issues and suggest
future studies in the area of convergence and instruction for both college
and high school journalism teachers.
The researchers asked journalism teachers from U.S. colleges and
universities four open-ended questions/prompts. Interviews were conducted
by telephone, e-mail and in person. Instructors were contacted at schools
from each major region of the country – Northeast, Southeast, Midwest,
Southwest and West Coast. Instructors ranged from full professors to
adjuncts to doctoral students. The intent was for journalism teachers to
reflect on their instructional practices in the last three to five years in
terms of how they are incorporating new techniques, lesson plans, unit
plans and/or text changes as they explore ways to interject converged
practices into their curricula.
The questions/prompts include the following: (1) What changes have you made
in teaching media writing in the last 3-5 years to address convergence and
new media? For example, are you including broadcast writing or writing for
the Web? Are students learning to edit tape to be sound bites or create Web
pages? (2) Explain a writing assignment that you include in a media writing
class that requires the students to write for broadcast or the Web. (3) How
do you think having students write for other media (i.e., broadcast and the
Web) has affected their ability to write for print? (4) How have faculty
members prepared to teach convergence (i.e., attending workshops to learn
skills, having release time to develop curriculum)?
What follows is a look at what these instructors had to say about the
changes – or lack thereof – they've made in journalism instruction as they
consider the place of convergence in the current and future media
landscape. The range of attitudes and practices was wide. One instructor
said that she used quick-change tactics to mimic the 24/7 news cycle in
multi-platform. During a writing lab, she would tell students to suddenly
change what they were doing – that there was a fire in the chemistry
building. She would recite the facts of the case and tell students to
prepare an online story and radio script in a timed situation. After the
students finished these quick hits, they would go back to their regular
lab. Another instructor heard a manager from a major media corporation say
that convergence was not as widespread or effective as had been
anticipated. The instructor took from this that making major changes in the
teaching or journalistic writing were not necessary, and he wanted to
re-emphasize the importance of teaching his students to be effective,
competent media writers. He was less interested in teaching them to write
Teaching writing across platforms
In the last year, journalism and communications schools across the country
have been looking inwardly, in no small part due to the fact that Columbia
University president Lee Bollinger refused to hire a new J-school dean at
the university's graduate program until a new mission statement had been
constructed that would take Columbia into the 21st Century (Janeway, A-11).
This set off a nationwide debate on the purposes of today's journalism
schools, professional programs that are often housed in research
universities. The debate has been framed in these terms: one side sees
journalism school as essentially unnecessary – and that all aspiring
journalists need to know about journalism either comes from reading plenty
of history and literature and/or from getting experience in the real world
of the media; the other side says that journalism school has been the
repository of revealed wisdom on how journalists behave, and that it
accordingly teaches students the skills necessary for survival in the real
world of the media. While this debate may not seem to have anything to do
with the grunt work of basic news writing instruction, it is reflective of
the split over what college journalism teachers perceive to be the basic
skills, perceptions, and attitudes that they are or ought to be teaching
Bob Ryan, a sports writer for the Boston Globe and the author of 11 books,
frames the argument for the pro-liberal arts, anti-journalism school
faction: "Journalists should be good readers. They should read great works
of fiction and non-fiction. They should read The New Yorker every week.
They don't have to go to journalism school. They should train their minds
every day by reading what writers in fiction and nonfiction have to say.
There's nothing wrong with them majoring in English, history, political
science, philosophy or even a pure science" (Spiker, 2003). Meanwhile, Dave
Busiek, news director for KCCI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa, puts stock in
experience: "I would rather see someone with a bachelor's degree who has
spent a year or two on the street covering news and learning how to write"
Kyle Bosch, a reporter for television station KSTP in St. Paul/Minneapolis,
Minnesota, frames the argument for the pro-journalism school side. Bosch
said skills courses in journalism school combined with on-the-job training
are the best way to prepare for a career in the media (Thomas, 2002). Media
companies have grown accustomed to relying on journalism schools to teach
many of their practitioners how to be competent journalists, and today as
economic resources tighten, J-schools "are hardly irrelevant" (Cunningham,
20; Wilson Quarterly, Winter 2003, 98).
There are several barriers to the adaptation of convergence in writing
classes, including resistance to change, lack of resources to retrain
teachers, relative paucity of technical skills taught in mass communication
doctoral programs, the telecommunications-journalism split at many
colleges, the need to develop a team-teaching approach to writing
instruction, and the reality that many media companies simply do not have
the necessary technology yet to put together full-fledged converged
operations themselves (Fitzgerald, 30). Furthermore, a change in the
curriculum will require a commitment to such resources as new textbooks
that have developed teaching ideas for multi-platform writing (Brooks et
al., 244-94). Another issue is the fundamental reality that journalism
schools tend to put what Ron Rosenbaum calls "straight reporting" as it is
done in daily newspapers at the top of their ideological ladders; he says
J-schools need to make the education of their students "as much about
writing as it is about reporting" (Rosenbaum, 2002). The very existence of
college journalism programs that value writing instruction is where this
study begins, for this paper will discuss how media writing instructors see
today's curriculum as "a growing number of journalism schools are teaching
students how to present news in more than one medium" (South et al., 10).
Two camps of converged writing instruction
What emerged from these interviews are two main camps of writing
instruction that can be framed by Everett Rogers' diffusion-of-innovations
theory: A camp of converts or innovators who have actively adapted to a
converged media environment, and a camp of resisters (Rogers, 1995). The
former tend to believe that convergence is an ever-growing reality in the
newsroom, while the latter operate under the assumption that convergence is
making only minimal changes in the habits and routines of media
practitioners. The former tend to see a new media practitioner evolving,
one who is a generalist; the latter tend to see multi-media journalism as
being limited, and most media practitioners remaining specialists. The
former can be summed up in the words of Kate Parry of the St. Paul,
Minnesota, Pioneer Press. Parry told a reporter for the Minnesota Daily,
the campus paper at the University of Minnesota: "If you're hiring a
reporter, you've got to hire somebody who can write, bottom line" (Thomas,
2002). The latter, on the other hand, see journalism as place for a jack of
all trades. Eric Alterman of The Nation says versatility is a useful talent
in media writing: "Most journalists are good at only what they're good at,
be it TV, tabloid journalism or Timesese. But the true greats like the late
Murray Kempton, of Newsday, could go tabloid in the morning on the latest
outrage in a Bronx courtroom and then bicycle across town after lunch to
knock off a few thousand words on Cicero for The New York Review [of
Books]" (Alterman, 34). Likewise, University of Florida College of
Journalism and Communications Dean Terry Hynes says that while "early
predictions of technologically driven convergence may have overreached …
more and more newspapers seek journalists who have the versatility and
training to prepare their stories for multiple outlets" (Hynes, 10).
To give an inkling of where universities stand, here is a short list of the
two camps: Writing instructors at Indiana University, Kansas University and
Ball State University represent the innovators, while instructors at the
University of Florida, University of Missouri and University of North
Carolina represent the resisters. Neither camp should be seen in completely
black-and-white terms. Both groups are aware of convergence, and both are
grappling with ways to incorporate it into the curriculum. Indeed,
resistors may even be in the process of allowing for more change. For
example, the University of Florida, which has been studying ways to change
its curriculum to include convergence for the last three year, is looking
to change its introductory media writing class to include a lab on writing
for the Web. Yet, in general, these classifications represent where the
types of programs were at the time this study was undertaken. One group
tended to embrace convergence; the other group tended to be less receptive
to embracing it. Both camps hold that the media writing programs at their
colleges need continual re-evaluation.
All of the instructors interviewed for this study discussed changes that
have been made because of convergence or are being considered because of
convergence. All agreed that an emphasis on both journalistic writing
mechanics, English grammar and journalistic (Associated Press) writing
style is critical to the success of any media writing program. One camp,
though, tended to place an emphasis on maintaining the basic fundamentals
as they are currently being taught, while the other camp had begun the
process of establishing lessons that developed skills that would help
students learn to write for more than one medium. Some of the resisters
also indicated that one reason that they were not changing writing
instruction was because they were part of large teaching teams that had
established a sense of consistency in the structure of the program.
Individual change was not encouraged. Change would only come when all changed.
Let's start with Indiana University, which has made a major paradigm shift
in its introductory media writing class. IU has its journalism students
take two classes that teach them how to write across several media
platforms. The first class teaches them to write for newspapers, magazine
and broadcast; the second has students writing a major in-depth news or
feature story that is six to eight pages long for the Web. "This requires
chunking, writing teasers, creating bulleted lists, finding pull quotes,"
said IU journalism professor David Boeyink said. "In other words, the goal
it to make this accessible to a Web audience that is looking for specific
Students in each lab section combine their efforts to produce a class
magazine with all of their stories going into the magazine. Students work
together on editing each other and with instructors on producing the online
magazine using Web page-making software. The resulting product then is
placed on an IU server and is linked to the School of Journalism Web site.
"Each student serves as an editor for a classmate's story, reshaping it for
a Web audience," Boeyink said.
The University of Kansas has replaced its introductory news writing course
with one that allows students to create stories for both print and
broadcast platforms. "Our program is more rigorous, not in terms of
learning more A.P. style, for example, but in critical thinking skills that
mirror all the processes of multimedia," said KU professor Rick Musser
(South et al., 10). "I come down on the side that you should not get
yourself too bound up in teaching technology," Musser added. "What is
important is how to use the technology to produce good journalism" (Quill,
July-August 2002, 13). Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, has added
a course in multi-media storytelling (Quill, July-August 2002, 13).
John Russial, a journalism professor at the University of Oregon, said
there has been an element of convergence in Oregon's program for years. "It
is taken by majors in all of the school's sequences, and it has covered
writing for electronic media for some time as well as print news, magazine,
advertising, and public relations. It is a large-lecture course (70-120
students) that meets twice a week with once-a-week discussion sections. It
would be impractical to have that many students learn to edit tape."
Russial also includes a class devoted to writing for the Web. "This isn't
much, but we're on 10-week terms," he said. I've used several types of
broadcast-writing assignments, including a radio PSA and a TV news script
based on notes and interview material. I don't have them write for the Web
as an assignment."
Russial believes the diversity of platform experiences reinforce
principles of writing taught for each area. "In general terms, I think,
writing for broadcast helps students by forcing them to be focused and
conversational," he said. "Those aren't bad lessons for print writers, as
anyone who has ever waded through a 48-word New York Times lead knows. I'm
not sure I can say much beyond that, because students here take Media
Writing before they take any more advanced writing or reporting courses. So
it's not as if they're either learning a great deal about broadcast writing
or unlearning anything about print writing."
Russial is not convinced that Web and print writing instruction are all
that different. He points out that most print companies that have Internet
sites tend to re-run the same article online. "Despite the hoopla, I think
the Web is primarily print on a screen
these days, and I don't see much potential impact on writing for print," he
said. "If or when the Web becomes more of a nonlinear medium, then there
might be some impact on print, but for now I really don't see much
different, except for the familiar admonitions to use bulleted lists or
other structuring devices, to write short and to use blue links. Some print
writers already do that, except they call the links reefers."
Boeyink said that Indiana has worked to prepare its faculty with summer
workshops on writing across platforms. "In addition, the introductory
courses have coordinators for all sections to ensure that instructors are
prepared to teach the students about convergence and writing for diverse
audiences. Lectures, exercises, and assignments are available online to
assist instructors." Oregon's Russial said supplemental preparation to
learn to teach convergence has been minimal at best. "I can't speak for
others," he said. "I taught myself HTML and some Web design years ago (I
think most professors who teach web writing probably did the same). I did
take a couple of short workshops, but they weren't much help. I've tried
to teach myself some of the other stuff, such as rudimentary nonlinear
editing and use of digital video cameras. I could have taken more extensive
workshops, and I will if I can find the time. Some
faculty members have professional experience across media and already can
work with different types of writing easily. For the others, some are more
comfortable going beyond what they used to do professionally than others."
The views from the University of North Carolina reflect a more
conservative approach to convergence. "It's important to point out at the
start that the newswriting course here is not intended to be a media
writing course," said doctoral student Glenn W. Scott, who teaches
newswriting at UNC. "It is designed as a course for newswriting for the
print medium (and, by extension, for some online purposes) ... We do
discuss convergence. I try to keep my students focused on the idea that all
newswriting needs to be seen as part of a whole. It's all storytelling
about public events and issues.
I want them to appreciate that newswriting is produced according to the
identification of the audiences and according to the forms dictated by the
Juanita Darling, a second-year doctoral student and writing instructor at
UNC, observed that her students are trying to deal with the basics of
journalistic writing. Darling said that she has little opportunity to
include convergence in her writing classes because students are barely
prepared for the level of competence expected in a college writing course.
"Students struggle just to learn the basic concepts of news values and
deadlines. Their only contact with the Web is as a source of information,
such as basic documents and opposing views," she said.
Greg Borchard, who has taught introductory media writing at the University
of Florida the last three years, said UF writing instructors also teach
their students to use the Web as a reporting resource. "I've encouraged
writers to use Internet resources for research purposes – from background
sources to finding interviews to finding contacts for publication," said
Borchard, who will begin teaching at UNLV in the fall of 2003. "We've done
search strategies to find the most appropriate contacts; however, the
content of writing has not been directly addressed – it's the same as it's
been for print media." Borchard added that Florida plans to implement at
least one lesson in purposing a news article for the Web beginning in the
fall of 2003. The goal is to have students take a news or news feature and
convert it to HTML using software before placing it on a college server.
The stories of each of 320 beginning media writing students will then be
Glen Feighery, a doctoral student, says that North Carolina has writing
courses tailored to broadcast and electronic media, worries about the
fundamentals of writing declarative, active-voice sentences: "I have read a
great deal of empirical evidence to the effect that young media
practitioners are losing a sense of subject-verb-object sentence
construction. Most of these articles blame TV's habit of using participles
such as 'War continuing today in Iraq.' " In other words, the rhythms and
grammars of broadcast media may actually be doing harm to students learning
to write for print media.
George Kennedy of the University of Missouri said that his faculty decided
not to include convergence in writing instruction because of the perception
that students needed the basics of news writing. After extensive discussion
with our broadcast and online faculty, we concluded not to include such
writing assignments in the basic course. The experts' belief is that
students fare better by learning basic print reporting and writing first.
That provides a platform from which they can move to other media and other
styles. As they move into their sequences, our broadcast students say that
they have to master a simpler, more conversational style. Online students
find, usually, that the inverted pyramid serves them well. The print
students who explore other media find little impact on their print writing
Kennedy said that Missouri has not been all that quick to change when it
comes to convergence. "We've followed our usual conservative path of
creating a variety of options for our students in new media and old media,"
he said. "For example, we have an 'online' track within each of our new
sequences that allows students to emphasize writing and producing online
content while also meeting the requirements of News Editorial, Magazine,
etc. We offer several one-hour 'Online Basics' courses to introduce the
skills and then a couple of advanced courses in which students create and
post content for either our Digital Missourian newspaper or KOMU s
television Web site.
"We don't have a 'media writing' course. Our introductory course, required
of all undergraduates regardless of sequence, is called 'News.' Its
emphasis is understanding, gathering and writing news. We focus on print in
that first course, in the belief that students who understand the basics of
reporting and clear writing can then apply those basics in any medium – and
in advertising and PR. We overhauled our introductory newswriting course
last year and now include discussions of and demonstrations of online and
broadcast stories. We don't have students in the introductory course write
for TV or the Web. That comes once they have chosen a sequence. In more
advanced courses, students can learn as much as they want to of the skills
required for broadcast and online. Those skills certainly include editing
tape and creating Web pages."
Kennedy notes that faculty members at Missouri generally have been coming
to terms with convergence more on a conceptual level than on a practical,
skills-oriented level. "We have a large faculty, with multiple specialties.
Most of us have tried to learn what convergence is but have not tried to
learn, for example, HTML coding or video editing," Kennedy said.
While UNC's Scott said that convergence has not yet become a major part of
the writing instruction curriculum in Chapel Hill, he believes that
incorporating elements of it in the future is very important. "Though the
emphasis in my class is on writing for print, I also want the students to
think about what other interactive features might accompany the text in an
online format," Scott said. "This last point is especially important to me
this semester because about a third of my students want to specialize in
multimedia journalism. On an abstract level, I believe that students
recognizing and appreciating the demands and constraints of various
forms of news (media) writing."
Yet Scott expressed concerned about overadoption. Scott said that Brigham
Young University has been building its curriculum around convergence, and
it has already made one major choice. "It is interesting to note that BYU
gave up on its mixed-media writing course and returned to more
traditionally segregated courses," Scott said. "The reasons include: (1)
BYU found that their students were not developing adequate skills in any
areas. Yes, they learned a little about everything, but the lack of
concentration on any one medium led to faculty conclusion that the students
were not building sufficient skills in any area. Given their limited
exposure to the students, the faculty chose to provide skills sets that are
narrow and deep rather than wide and shallow ... (2) The faculty also
realized that, at this point, very few news organizations are shopping for
people who can write/produce well for various media. Almost all hires are
by organizations seeking skills in one specific skill. Thus, students with
the wide/shallow skills were at a disadvantage." BYU associate chair Ed
Adams said that the school had to go back to teaching basic news writing
(Quill, July-August 2002, 13).
Florida's Borchard also had concerns about generalization. "Teaching
students convergence skills makes them more flexible and may make them more
employable, although I suspect it also decreases their ability to
specialize in any particular area," Borchard said. Northwestern journalism
professor Rich Gordon found little evidence of real multi-media journalism
in highly converged operations in Orlando and Tampa, Florida. "Print
reporters now have to go on air to answer questions about their stories,"
but that generally is the extent of convergence, Gordon said (South et al.,
UNC's Scott went on to say that media companies that have invested in
convergence are not giving up on specialization. "Gil Thelan, executive
editor of the Tampa Tribune, is explicit on this point as well," Scott
said. "Even though he oversees probably the most converged professional
newsroom in the country, he says his organization seeks people with
excellent skills in just one area. I've heard him make this point twice in
the past year. More important than a wide set of skills, he says, is a
willingness to adapt and having the flexibility to learn new skills as the
need arises. He likes people who are willing – not resistant – to change,
who succeed in collaborative activities and who enjoy the personal process
of learning. It seems as if there may be an argument here that says that,
in this relatively early stage of transition toward convergence, it is less
important to teach all skills in a single course than to teach adaptability
and team-building skills in many courses." In other words, many media
companies are still sending a specialization signal to both
journalism/communications instructors and to potential employees. As a
result, a more conservative approach of minimizing inclusion of convergence
skills into the curriculum remains dominant.
The benefits of teaching across media platforms are many for students. "My
feeling is that the experience gives them more flexibility in using writing
styles," Oregon's Russial said. "For example, broadcast writing has the
potential to teach students stronger forms of narrative writing and simple
sentences." Furthermore, as Russial observed, many of the guiding
principles for writing in one platform also govern writing in other
platforms. Since the days of Rudolph Flesch's readability studies for the
media, conciseness, clarity and consistency have been valued equally by
print, broadcast, and online audiences, although each medium has developed
discrete audience needs – such as the appeal to emotion from television and
photography, the need for explanation from print and radio, the need for
analysis for print (Fox, 17). Furthermore, all three media platforms
transmit information to immediate audiences who tend to use the information
quickly and discard it. Journalistic writing's shelf life is short;
therefore, students for each medium have to focus their writing and
organize it to effectively communicate audiences with short attention spans
(Ratzlaff and Dodd, 2). Teaching students to write for each platform
reinforces these principles.
Yet many of the writing instructors interviewed here said that
re-purposing writing for more than one platform is not a part of the
current curriculum. Instead, there seems to be resistance to the idea of
convergence, in part garnered from anecdotal evidence that even highly
converged media companies still prefer employees who are specialists –
reporters, editors, directors, designers, photographers, anchors.
Both camps present strong arguments for pursuing their approaches to
writing instruction in a converged media world. Bill Maxwell, a columnist
at the St. Petersburg, Florida, Times who has taught writing on the college
level, provides evidence for the resister camp. Maxwell says, "Student
writing at most colleges and universities nationwide remains mediocre to
poor … As a professor, my most important teaching tools are my published
writings and those of other professionals. No amount of talk can instruct
like a well-turned sentence or like a well-researched, logically argued
book or article" (Gainesville, Florida, Sun, Nov. 12, 2002). To apply
Maxwell's approach to media writing instruction from the resister camp,
teachers focus on the basics of effective writing, including the reading of
model writing – including perhaps the work of the teachers themselves. Of
course, the writing style that the resisters focus on is geared toward the
print media, especially newspapers, which have traditionally been the
dominant medium in the United States. Furthermore, the resisters believe
their plates are already full with lessons devoted to news, feature and
opinion writing as well as lessons on public relations and advertising
writing. Meanwhile, the innovators argue that the principles of writing for
each of the major medium – print, broadcast and online – are remarkably
similar; therefore, teaching students to write for each platform reinforces
basic principles of effective writing. The view is that clear, concise and
accurate writing, in deadline situations, serves all three media well.
Sal Paolantonio, a reporter for ESPN who began his career covering
politics in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said: "Convergence journalism only
works if you can report – if you are a reporter first. It's about finding
information that people can use and need" (Spiker, 2003). The word, then,
is that journalism schools tend to do the most for their students when they
prepare them to be journalists first. They have to know how to write, but
there's no story unless they can report, and while journalism schools are
looking to update their mission statements, they must continue to teach
their students how to think critically, report accurately and write
effectively. Yet, because journalists face an information flow with that is
continuous and perpetual because of the existence of the Internet, new
professional stresses have emerged, including the possibility that they
will be asked to re-purpose their work for more than one medium. Bollinger
was right to have Columbia reconsider its mission statement, and this study
recommends that all U.S. journalism and communications programs make a
similar effort at updating their purposes as they come to terms with the
changing economic, political, legal and technological changes in the media
Finally, Brent Cunningham, editor of the Columbia Journalism Review, says
the debate about journalism schools should never be settled. "If journalism
is about making sense of the world, and the world is always changing, then
there should always be people searching for ways to make journalism better.
But at the same time, the soul of good journalism – thorough, tough
reporting and clear writing – has never changed, and shouldn't"
(Cunningham, 20). So it is with media writing instruction. The debate will
go on, but the fundamentals of journalistic writing remain the same. Still,
journalists will likely be asked to purpose their work for more than one
platform, but they also be asked to be strong in one particular platform.
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Appendix I: Interview questions
(1) What changes have you made in teaching media writing in the last 3-5
years to address convergence and new media? For example, are you including
broadcast writing or writing for the Web? Are students learning to edit
tape to be sound bites or create Web pages?
(2) Explain a writing assignment that you include in a media writing
class that requires the students to write for broadcast or the Web.
(3) How do you think having students write for other media (i.e., broadcast
and the Web) has affected their ability to write for print?
(4) How have faculty members prepared to teach convergence (i.e.,
attending workshops to learn skills, having release time to develop
Schools contacted for the study
California at Berkeley