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Subject: AEJ 03 MasseM NWS Results of the National Media Writing Faculty Survey
From: Elliott Parker <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:AEJMC Conference Papers <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 1 Oct 2003 06:27:08 -0400

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"Searching for a New Paradigm:
Results of the National Media Writing Faculty Survey"


Mark Massé
Associate Professor
[log in to unmask]

Mark Popovich
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Department of Journalism
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306

Submitted to the Newspaper Division of the Association for Education in
Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Annual Conference
Kansas City, MO, July-August 2003

  "Searching for a New Paradigm:
Results of the National Media Writing Faculty Survey"


        Like their counterparts in English departments nationwide, U.S. journalism
scholars have long sought to establish a body of knowledge specific to the
teaching of writing in journalism.  Such research arguably begins with
identifying contemporary attitudes and practices of journalism and media
writing faculty in the United States.  This inquiry includes an examination
of the prevalence of traditional or writing as product teaching, where the
instructor serves primarily as an editor, compared with the use of
progressive pedagogy or writing as process, where the instructor serves
more as a coach with his or her students.
Innovative educators approach journalistic writing as a blend of product
and process approaches, combining creative thinking strategies to bolster
performance with strict language skills instruction and emphasis on proper
mechanics.  In these classrooms, instruction unites craft and creativity in
the teaching of journalistic/media writing.  In these classrooms, students
learn to think as writers and gain confidence in their creativity, while
recognizing and employing the principles and techniques required by their
professional craft.
        Elbow (1983) discussed the two conflicting mentalities needed for good
teaching, which stem from the two conflicting obligations inherent in the
job—an obligation to nurture creativity in students and an obligation to
knowledge and society  (e.g., upholding professional standards).
The challenge for journalism educators is to integrate the best of writing
as product and process in their instruction.  The challenge for journalism
researchers is to determine where these approaches are being successfully
implemented.  That search for a new, more integrated paradigm in the
teaching of media writing was the rationale for a comprehensive national
study conducted by the researchers in spring 2002.
This comprehensive survey of journalism educator attitudes toward the
teaching of writing was commissioned as part of a three-year grant to Ball
State University's Department of Journalism by the John S. and James L.
Knight Foundation.

Literature Review: English Composition Studies

For decades, research on the teaching of writing was largely the domain of
English departments.  In the 1970s and 1980s such research focused on the
practices of composition students.  Emig (1971) used protocol analysis to
study the composing process of a group of 12th-graders and discovered that
their writing was recursive not linear. They developed their ideas
intuitively not methodically, and proceeded through a writing assignment by
moving back and forth between various stages (e.g., planning, writing,
revising) of the writing process.  Murray (1972, 1978) challenged
conventional wisdom, suggesting that educators needed to initiate students
into the process of discovery through language.  He reported that internal
revision, in which the writer "discovers" content, form and voice was far
more extensive and important than external revision, which includes
proofreading and copy editing a story.

Flower and Hayes (1981) formulated a cognitive theory of writing that
centered on the set of thinking processes a writer organized while
composing.  A related discovery was that writers changed their primary
goals and created new goals (thus shaping and reshaping story content)
based on what they learned by writing.
For years, composition scholars debated the merits of competing approaches,
such as product versus process or craft versus creativity.  D'Eloia (1977)
discussed the "uses and limits of grammar" in teaching writing.  Pianko
(1979) recommended that teachers focus on process not product.  Friedman
(1983) criticized teaching methods that were error-based (i.e., that
attempted to remedy grammatical or mechanical problems by showing how not
to write).  Graves (1980) described the shift in writing research to
concern with process (versus product).  Yet Greenberg (1982) urged
composition teachers to become involved in creating tests to measure
minimum writing ability.  Where Moran (1984) called for teachers to serve
as in-process editors, Murray (1981) claimed that teachers should not
interpret students' drafts but allow students to work toward their own
meaning.  Similarly, Spear (1983) wrote that writing instruction was more
beneficial if it rested upon theories of sequential cognitive development
to better address needs of students.   In exploring the role of writing
centers on campus, North (1984) stated that misunderstandings about these
centers reveal an emphasis on product (e.g., fix-it shops) rather than on
process (e.g., nurturing student-centered writing).
During the 1980s, a growing number of theorists began a search for a more
integrated paradigm in the teaching of writing.  The emphasis was on
exploring how opposite mentalities or processes could complement rather
than interfere with each other—such as writing assignments that began with
exploratory invention and ended with critical revising (Elbow,
1983).  While Hairston (1982) implored educators to do the "hard thing" by
examining the intangible process of student writing, she noted that it was
important to preserve the best parts of earlier methods for teaching
writing: the concern for style and the preservation of high standards for
the written product.

Literature Review: Journalism Research

Throughout much of the 20th century, the traditional model in journalism
writing texts focused on an objective reality of newsworthiness as
distinguished by such traits as prominence, proximity, timeliness,
consequence and conflict.  Conn (1968) examined the role of these "news
values" and other reporting techniques in shaping how journalists write
their stories. Pitts (1982) used verbal protocols (i.e., tape recordings of
subjects' thoughts on writing) to describe the stages of the news writing
processes of professional reporters.  In 1987 (Ieron) replicated Pitts'
1982 study using student journalists.  The research revealed distinct
differences between how professional and student journalists approached the
writing of stories.
Media stories were assumed to be conceived and written in a linear,
methodical fashion, emphasizing story forms (e.g., inverted pyramid) and
formats (e.g., speech stories, meeting coverage) (Zurek, 1986).  Advocates
of the traditional, product-oriented approach to news writing focused on
the accuracy, organization and grammatical correctness of the finished
product as measured against a pre-established model (White, 1989).
But a number of researchers such as Zurek (1986), Olson (1987) and Pitts
(1989) urged fellow journalism educators to challenge conventional
approaches and investigate composition literature that could enable
journalism educators to see more clearly the most effective teaching and
evaluation strategies for writing instruction.  Journalism writing
instructors were encouraged to adopt new methodologies that increased
interaction between teachers and students during the writing process, and
focused more attention on lead writing and editing for revision (Pitts,
1989).  Streckfuss (1991) utilized aspects of writing process theory, with
its emphasis on stages of revision to improve writing.  Similarly,
Schierhorn & Endres (1992) discussed the role of instructors who coached
writers through the entire prewriting, writing and rewriting process rather
than merely critiquing and grading the final product.
A decade later, Wiltse (2002) wrote that it would benefit instructors to
understand the how students use instructors' comments to revise their news
stories.  He noted how instructor feedback could have a powerful effect on
students' self-efficacy beliefs and their performance as writers.  Massé
and Popovich (2002) conducted a pilot study of introductory media writing
students at a Midwestern university during a summer term to determine if
student attitudes toward writing changed from the beginning of a course
until its conclusion.  Q Methodology was used to replicate studies of
writing apprehension conducted by Riffe and Stacks in 1988 and 1992.  By
providing a personalized (subjective) measure of attitudes, Q Methodology
enabled researchers to conduct an individual assessment of writing
apprehension as opposed to analyzing group norms, as in previous research
on the phenomenon of writing apprehension.
Subsequently, Massé and Popovich replicated the same study with an expanded
population of students at the same Midwestern university.  Statements were
given to 127 beginning journalism students who were taking their first
college journalism writing class during a 16-week fall term.  The students
represented seven department sequences.  From the 127 Q sorts, a random
sample of 40 respondents was selected–20 men, 20 women.  Further analysis
of these results is underway.
Student attitudes toward their craft are considered significant predictors
of writing ability (Humphrey 1982).  Massé (1999) conducted a qualitative
pilot research study using student journals as a formative (classroom)
assessment technique.  The objective of the research was to enhance
understanding of media students' attitudes toward writing processes.  The
data revealed information about the mindset of students in a media writing
classroom that could be used by instructors to shape their pedagogical
Journalism education has long been dominated by the traditionalists who
stress the mechanics and fundamentals of writing, concentrating on the
quality of the finished written product that students generate.  These
educators define themselves largely as editors.  They favor a
teacher-centered (based) classroom, where lectures are regularly given, and
where papers receive detailed critiques and severe penalties for
grammatical errors.
However, since the late 1980s, journalism faculty have emerged who view
writing more as a student-centered cognitive process.  These educators act
as coaches who guide student-writers, helping them to select topics, solve
problems, generate ideas, and plan, shape and revise their writings
(Walvoord, 1990).  They also tend to assign more ungraded, informal writing
exercises, organize peer editing teams in the classroom, and schedule
student conferences regularly throughout the term.  Zurek (1986) says that
these instructors "pay attention to all aspects of the writing process:
discovering what the writer wishes to write about, gathering information,
making meaning, ordering ideas, revising, editing."
In 1998 Massé and Popovich conducted a Q methodology study to assess
faculty attitudes toward the teaching of writing at a Midwestern
university.  The study focused on determining how faculty viewed their
mission of teaching writing across communication disciplines. By
quantifying the expressed attitudes of a department's writing faculty, a Q
methodology study was an effective first step toward assisting the
journalism unit in creating a more unified approach to enhance the teaching
of writing. The study also revealed that all faculty used some combination
of both coaching (writing as process) and editing (writing as product)
approaches in the writing classroom. There were slightly more faculty (56
to 44 percent) who labeled themselves as being more of a coach than an
editor in the teaching of writing.
        In the search for a new paradigm in the teaching of writing, a basic
question remains: Which teaching style will contribute to improving
undergraduate writing skills across communication disciplines?   Journalism
educators and communication professionals are now suggesting a balance
between craft and creativity, a flexible strategy that nurtures the
cognitive process while ensuring the quality of the final written
product.  This integrated approach to the teaching of writing is intended
to provide students with opportunities to see the connections among
mechanical, expressive and journalistic writing abilities as they work to
enhance their skills in those areas (Ward and Seifert, 1990).  Such
connections are encouraged by editors as well as educators, demonstrating
the belief that to improve the teaching of writing is not a matter of
finding the right method.  Rather, it is a process of balancing the
requirements and rewards of competing styles (e.g., product and
process).  The pursuit of an integrated instruction model in the journalism
writing classroom also reflects an acceptance of theories of information
processing and cognitive development, which demonstrate the highly
individualized nature of all learning—such as how students interact with
particular tasks (Siegler, 1983) and progress at varying rates Spear (1983).


The initial objective of this national media writing faculty survey was to
compile a contemporary profile of the typical U.S. journalism
educator.  This profile includes demographic data and information on
pedagogical attitudes, practices and resources.  A second, related
objective was to search for a new, more integrated paradigm in the teaching
of media writing—where instruction blends both product and process
techniques, enabling students to gain confidence and proficiency in their
Researchers were particularly interested in examining educators'
self-rankings on teaching style (i.e., product- versus
process-orientation).  To better understand teaching approaches,
respondents were asked to detail common pedagogical techniques for
addressing student-writing problems.  Related questions dealt with types of
writing assignments typically assigned to students in introductory and
advanced writing classes.

Research Questions:

1) Who is the typical media writing teacher in U.S.
journalism/communication programs, and what are the typical teaching
practices of that media writing teacher?
2) Can we determine which writing teachers consider themselves to be more
traditional (i.e., editors) or progressive (i.e., coaches), and are there
resultant differences in their teaching styles and practices?

        To answer the research questions posed by the study investigators, a
telephone and Web site survey was conducted of all the media writing
teachers who could be identified at the 425 journalism and mass
communications schools listed in the 2002 membership directory of the
Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.  An
independent research (polling) firm in Indianapolis, Indiana, was employed
to conduct the study, and it called all of the schools in the AEJMC
directory during the March and April 2002, test period.  The firm
identified 1287 faculty who were teaching media writing courses.  Media
writing faculty were given the option of participating in a 10-page
telephone survey or responding to the survey by email.  The survey firm
made a maximum of 12 calls to each individual to solicit responses to the
        A total of 512 individuals (40%) responded to at least some of the
questions, but 376 individuals (29%) representing 240 institutions (56%)
provided complete and usable survey data.  Because of the partial responses
to certain survey questions, N values differ in the findings, and some
questions have more than a total of 376 responses.  Two-thirds of those
responding did so by Web site, and the other third responded to a 20-minute
telephone survey.  Of the responding individuals, 209 (56%) taught at an
ACEJMC accredited institution, and 167 (44%) taught at a non-accredited
institution.  Sixty-three percent of the respondents were male, and 37%
were female.

Using the SPSS statistical package for the PC, investigators cross-tabbed
data in three ways.  They broke out comparisons to all of the survey
questions by accredited versus non-accredited schools, by gender, and by
editor versus coach identification, using a self-rating continuum (Survey
Question 13).  The editor-coach continuum was a 10-point bi-polar scale
with 1 = editor, and 10 = coach.  Those respondents (185) who rated
themselves from 1-5 were considered to be editors (mean = 4.21), and those
respondents (188) who rated themselves from 6-10 were considered to be
coaches (mean = 7.73).  Chi-square tests of fit were used where
appropriate, and independent sample t-tests were used to test means.

        Although a major focus of this paper is to assess to what extent current
journalism educators have integrated product (editor) versus process
(coach) writing techniques into their instructional activities, the
investigators begin here with a profile of the contemporary media writing
teacher in U.S. journalism/communication programs to provide baseline
information about teaching styles and practices.  After the profile is
presented, the investigators provide an analysis of the editor versus coach
methodologies of teaching media writing, and discuss to what extent both
methodologies are operational in media writing courses.

Profile of Media Writing Teacher
        The typical media writing teacher working at a U.S. journalism and mass
communication program who participated in this study was male (63.0%),
approximately 50 years (49.74) old, and held a doctorate (46.7%) or a
master's degree (42.4%).  The average media writing teacher in this study
taught at an ACEJMC accredited school or department (55.6%). This
representative media writing teacher had been a college-level instructor on
a full-time and part-time basis for 14.4 years, and he had worked at his
present institution for 9.5 years.  He had 13.5 years of professional media
writing experience.  He was either tenured (38.3%) or on the tenure-track
(20.6%), and he had a professorial rank (67.8%).  He was conducting
research/creative activity (63.8%), and he was involved in service
activities (71.8%).
        The typical media writing teacher taught approximately five media classes
each year.  Two were introductory classes, and three were
advanced-level  classes.  Four of these classes were specific media writing
classes, and generally these classes were in the news-editorial area
(79.8%).  On average, the media writing teacher reported that his students
completed 16 graded writing assignments in his introductory classes, and 13
graded writing assignments in his upper-level classes.  This media writing
teacher thought that the ideal number of students for introductory media
class should be approximately 17 (M=16.65), and 15 (M=15.04) in advanced
In his introductory classes, the media writing teacher's top five teaching
(1=low; 5=high amount of attention) were: lead writing (M=4.02), grammar
and AP style (M=3.83), story structure (M=3.78), revising stories (M=3.67),
and sentence structure (M=3.61).  With the possible exception of story
revising (i.e., allowing rewrite options) all of these were traditional
writing-as-product-type activities, common for an editor versus coach
orientation.  By contrast, writing-as-process-type activities, common to a
teacher-as-coach orientation, scored much lower: peer editing (M=2.85),
prewriting (brainstorming, mapping) activities (M=2.79) and out-of-class
workshops (M=2.73).
(See Appendix 1)
        Although the survey results on media writing teaching activities indicated
a preference for more traditional (i.e., editor) teaching practices, the
average media writing teacher in this study said that he felt more
comfortable being a coach rather than an editor in class (M=3.53).  He also
indicated that he would define his role more as a coach rather than as an
editor (M=5.98), S.D.=2.14).*  The research continued to reveal a
consistent, paradoxical pattern of respondents identifying themselves as
being more progressive (i.e., coach) in attitude, while demonstrating more
traditional (i.e., editor) teaching behavior. Further, the typical media
writing teacher philosophically aligned himself more as a traditional
journalist, rather than as a civic journalist (M=4.91, S.D.=2.44).*
        The typical media writing teacher felt most comfortable teaching news
writing skills (M=4.65); having individual conferences with writing
students (M=4.62); and teaching grammar/language skills (M=4.27).  In
introductory classes, the media writing teacher most typically assigned
three kinds of hard news stories:  speech coverage (56.9%), accident/crime
story (55.1%) and meeting coverage (53.5%).  In introductory classes, the
media writing teacher most typically assigned a personality profile (62.5%)
as a feature writing assignment.  The most popular "other assignment" given
by the media writing teacher was a news release (43.1%).  In advanced
classes, the media writing teacher most typically assigned the
issue-oriented story (67.6%) for hard news; the most common feature writing
assignments were the personality profile (68.6%) and an issue-oriented
story (61.2%). (See Appendix 2 and 3)
Convergence-type news writing courses were offered at less than the
majority of schools (48.1%) where this "average" media writing teacher was
employed, and 44.1% of the schools were planning to offer such a course in
the near future.
Only 24.7% of respondents' programs currently require a standardized
grammar and language skills test from students.  But 70.5% of respondents
felt that journalism programs should require a standardized grammar and
language skills test.  Only 20.8% of respondents' programs currently offer
a grammar course for journalism/communication students; while another 33%
believe a grammar course should be offered.  Forty-six percent (46.3%) of
respondents did not support a grammar class for journalism/ communication
students because their units either did not have the resources (24.5%), or
they thought enough grammar was already being taught in writing classes
Sixty-five (65.4%) percent of respondents believed, however, that
journalism programs should require students to pass a writing competency
exam before they graduate. Ninety-two percent (92.2%) thought that all
introductory students should earn a minimum passing grade in order to
advance in the program.  Sixty-nine percent  (69.1%) of respondents'
programs currently have a minimum grade requirement.
        When it came to dealing with student writing problems, the typical media
writing teacher preferred traditional product-oriented approaches, such as
giving detailed critiques and editing of assignments (91.2%) and providing
more editing/proofreading skills assignments (65.7%).  However, more
progressive process-oriented approaches were also recommended by
respondents: allowing students more rewrite options on assignments (65.3%);
introducing more coaching techniques in/out of the classroom (55.3%); and
encouraging peer review/editing exercises (55.1%).
        Regarding, use of supplemental resources, the typical media writing
teacher referred "weaker" students to the university's writing/learning
center (64.1%).  This result was supported by the fact that 89.4% of
schools in this study have a college or university maintained writing
center.  Only 19.1% of the units in this study maintained their own writing
center to provide tutoring to students.  These peer-tutoring centers were
staffed mostly by a combination of undergrads and graduate students
(24.7%), but the typical writing teacher did not rate the effectiveness of
the writing center very high.  He rated as average the value of the peer
tutoring writing center (M=2.96); and he rated the effectiveness of the
tutoring center in improving student writing even lower (M=2.81).  Only
16.2% of the respondents surveyed stated that their program offered an
interactive Web site/on-line writing lab to assist their students with
writing instruction.

Editors versus Coaches
        In the course of responding to the media writing survey, faculty were
asked to define their role as a writing instructor by rating themselves on
a continuum from 1 to 10, with 1 representing their role as an editor, and
10 representing their role as a coach.  Those faculty (194) who rated
themselves as "editors " (49.6%) posted a mean score of 4.21.  Those
faculty (196) who rated themselves as "coaches" (50.4%) posted a mean score
of 7.73.  A t-test of the two means produced a significant result (t =
-29.568, df = 382, p < .000), and the finding was an indication that two
distinct views did evolve in this study concerning media writing
teacher.  Overall, a slightly larger number of women (52.2%) defined
themselves as coaches, and a slightly larger number of men defined
themselves as editors (50.6%).  No significant difference between the two
genders was found, however.  Overall, slightly more males (50.7) who
defined themselves as editors were employed at accredited schools, while
slightly more females (51.3%) who defined themselves as coaches were
employed at accredited schools.
        Editors reported that they were approximately 50 years old, and coaches
averaged 49 years of age.  Editors averaged 13.9 years of media writing
experience, and coaches averaged 13.7 years.  In terms of academic degrees,
editors had a higher percentage of doctorates (50.3%) than master's degrees
(38.4%), while coaches had earned more master's degrees (46.3%) than
doctorates (43.6%).  Approximately 11% of editors held bachelor degrees,
while about 10% of coaches held a similar degree.  More coaches (39.9%)
were tenured than editors (36.8%), but more editors (24.3%) were on the
tenure-track than coaches (18.6%).  More than one-third of editors (36.2%)
and coaches (36.7%) were on renewable contracts.  Editors reported they had
been teaching for about 15 years in college, both full- and part-time, and
they had spent about nine years at their present institution.  Coaches
reported teaching in colleges for 14 years, both full and part time, and
they had spent the last 10 years at their present institution.
        Coaches (68.6%) held more professorial ranks than editors (67.0%), while
more editors (16.8%) were instructors than coaches (14.9%).  Approximately
16% of editors and coaches were considered to be either adjunct faculty or
lecturers in their units.  More editors (68.1%) than coaches (60.6%)
reported they were involved in research/creative activities, and more
coaches (72.9%) than editors (71.9%) reported more involvement in service
activities.  Approximately 12% of editors reported no involvement in
research or service, and about 18% of coaches reported no involvement.
        Generally, editors said they taught 5.6 media classes during the year; 2.2
of them were introductory classes, and 3.3 were advanced classes.  Coaches
reported teaching 5.3 classes per year; 1.9 of them were introductory
writing classes, and 3.6 were advanced writing classes.  Editors said they
assigned an average of 17 graded assignments in intro-ductory writing
courses, and 13 in advanced writing classes.  Coaches said they assigned 15
graded assignments in introductory courses, and 13 in advanced writing
 From a list of 18 teaching activities (Appendix 1), editors said they gave
the most attention in their classes to: lead writing (M = 3.99); grammar
and AP style (M = 3.95); story structure (M = 3.77); sentence structure (M
= 3.66); and revising stories (M = 3.59).  Coaches chose the same five
activities but in a slightly different order:  lead writing (M = 4.06);
story structure (M = 3.82); revising stories (M = 3.78); grammar and AP
style (M = 3.76); and sentence structure (M = 3.59).  Only one activity
from the list, prewriting activities (e.g., brainstorming, mapping),
provided a significant difference (t = -2.753,
df = 173, p < .007) between editors (M = 2.54) and coaches (M =
3.03).  Prewriting activities were ranked last by editors.  Coaches ranked
this writing-as-process technique 13th out of 18 on their list of
activities.  Investigators found it surprising that more teaching of
writing activity differences did not exist between editors and coaches.
        Even more surprising was the ranking of those list activities by the media
writing faculty defining themselves as coaches. Embedded in the list of 18
activities, were six teaching activities that writing-as-process proponents
had recommended.  Those six included: prewriting activities, use of
non-graded drafts, revising, peer editing, student conferences, and
out-of-class workshops.   Only story revising ranked in the coaches' top
five list of activities.  The others were ranked at the lower end of the
scale for writing activities.
TABLE 1:  Which of the following, if any, pedagogical techniques do you use
when addressing student writing problems?
          (In percentages)

Techniques                                                                 All Schools    Editors     Coaches
                                                                            (N=376)        (N=194)   (N=196)

Assign remedial writing exercises or tutorials (n =
139)                                            37.0%   37.3%   39.4%
Promote journal writing (n = 54)                                                        14.4    14.1    16.0
Use department-wide rating scale to penalize writing errors (n = 73)                    19.4
23.2    16.5
Provide detailed critiques/edits on assignments (n = 343)                               91.2    96.2    92.6
Provide prewriting exercises (n = 192)                                          51.1    50.3    53.7
Introduce more lectures on writing-related topics (n = 234)                             62.2    66.5    61.7
Provide more editing/proofreading skills assignments (n = 247)                          65.7    68.6
Assign more ungraded writing assignments (n = 170)                                      45.2    45.9    46.8
Encourage peer reviewing/editing exercises (n = 196)                                    52.1    53.0    54.3
Allow students more rewrite options on their work (n = 245)                             65.3    64.9    70.7
Hold regularly scheduled conferences with all students (n = 180)                                47.9
49.2    48.9
Introduce more writing coach techniques in/out of the classroom (n =
208)                    55.3    51.4    61.7
Reinforce the role of instructor as the final editor (n = 186)                          49.5    56.8
Assign/refer students to a writing center, Web site, or other source (n =
182)                    48.4    49.7    49.5
Other techniques (n = 43)                                                       11.4    15.1      8.0
(NOTE: "N" totals vary due to some survey questions having more than 376

        In terms of introductory and advance writing class assignments, general
agreement was evident between editors and coaches.  The most popular
introductory hard news writing assignment was a speech story for editors
(64.9%), while coaches used an accident/crime story assignment (58%).  The
personality profile was the most popular assignment for a feature writing
exercise for editors (64.9%) and coaches (66.5%).  News releases served as
most popular "other assignment" for editors (43.2%) and coaches (45.2%).
        In advanced writing classes, issue-oriented stories were the most popular
for editors (73.5%) and coaches (66.5%).  Personality profiles were the
most popular feature writing assignments for editors (71.4%) and coaches
(70.7%).  Both editors (29.2%) and coaches (29.8%) chose a persuasive
writing assignment as their favorite "other" writing assignment in advanced
        Some differences in pedagogical techniques were detected between editors
and coaches when they addressed student writing problems (See Table
1).  Both editors (96.2%) and coaches (92.6%) provided detailed critiques
and editing on writing assignments.  Editors, however, chose next to
provide more editing/proofreading skills assignments (68.6%); gave more
lectures on writing-related topics (66.5%); allowed more rewrite options on
student work (64.9%), and encouraged peer reviewing /editing exercises
(53%).   Coaches, after providing detailed critiques, allowed more rewrite
options (70.7%); provided more editing, proofreading skills assignments
(67.6%); gave more lectures on writing-related topics (61.7%); and
introduced more writing coach techniques in/out of the classroom
(61.7%).  Overwhelmingly, editors (69.2%) and coaches (62.8%) chose to
refer their students to their university writing/learning center who needed
help with language/grammar skills.
TABLE 2:  Indicate your feelings about the following statements: (1 =
Strongly Disagree; 5 = Strongly Agree)

Statements                                                                          All Schools    Editors   Coaches
                                (N=376)       (N=194)  (N=196)
I feel comfortable teaching news writing skills.                                        4.65    4.68    4.62
I feel comfortable teaching grammar/language skills.                                    4.27    4.29    4.25
I feel comfortable teaching public relations writing skills.                            3.22    3.15    3.30
I feel comfortable teaching advertising writing skills.                                 2.53    2.46    2.59
I feel comfortable teaching broadcast writing skills.                                   3.10    2.28    3.31*
I feel comfortable teaching online writing skills.                                      3.03    2.94    3.13
I feel comfortable having individual conferences with writing
students.                       4.62    4.53    4.72*
I feel comfortable with peer editing exercises.                                 3.40    3.25    3.56*
I feel more comfortable being an editor than a coach in class.                          2.91
3.33*   2.52
I feel more comfortable being a coach than an editor in class.                          3.53    3.03
NOTE: "N" totals vary due to some survey questions having more than 376
* Denotes significant differences between editors and coaches.

        Investigators asked editors and coaches to assess their feelings on a
number of statements dealing with teaching subjects and activities (See
Table 2).  Editors ranked their comfort with teaching news writing skills
highest (M = 4.68); then came their comfort with individual student
conferences (M = 4.53); their comfort with teaching grammar/language skills
(M = 4.29); their comfort with being an editor rather than a coach in class
(M = 3.33); and their comfort with peer editing exercises (M =
3.25).   Their ratings on individual student conference and peer editing
exercises were significantly lower than the ratings provided by
coaches.  Their ratings on being an editor in the classroom were
significantly greater than the rating provided by the coaches.
        Coaches rated highest their comfort with individual students conferences
(M = 4.72); then came their comfort with teaching news writing skills (M =
4.62); teaching grammar/language skills (M = 4.25); being a coach in class
(M = 4.04); and teaching broadcast writing skills (M = 3.31).  Coaches'
ratings concerning individual student conferences, being a coach in class,
and teaching broadcast writing skills were significantly higher than
ratings posted by editors on the same statements.  Overall, this battery of
statements may give some indication of whether media writing teachers will
be able to cope with the pedagogical demands of convergence (print,
broadcast, online) and persuasive (advertising, public relations) writing
courses.  The results here suggest that editors and coaches are comfortable
with teaching traditional subjects such as news writing and grammar, and
having conference with students.  But if they are faced with teaching
advertising, broadcast or public relations writing, they are not as
comfortable facing those challenges.  Only coaches exhibited a moderate
level of comfort with teaching broadcast writing, and their reaction to the
statement was significantly different from that of editors who expressed
below-average comfort.
        Finally, editors and coaches were asked to indicate what philosophical
values they were passing on to their students by rating themselves on a
10-point continuum, where
1 = traditional journalist, and 10 = civic journalist.  Editors posted a
4.47 mean on the scale, which meant they leaned toward the traditional
journalist philosophy.  Coaches posted a mean of 5.34 on the scale, which
suggested an inclination toward the civic journalist model.  This
difference was significant (t = -3.499, df = 374, p < .001).  However, the
overall mean for the entire group of media writing teachers on the
traditional versus civic journalist continuum was 4.91.  The median and the
mode for the entire group were 5.0, and the SD was 2.44.   Although it
might be a streamlined solution to classify editors as traditional
journalists and coaches as civic journalists, the research findings would
suggest that the attitudes of media teachers in this study lay somewhere
between traditional and civic journalists, philosophically.  Because of the
discussion surrounding the inclusion of the civic journalism notion into
professional practice, it might be said of media writing teachers that they
were more inclined to be noncommittal about the philosophical dichotomy.

        Since the late 1980s, a small group of journalism educators have urged
their colleagues to incorporate specific, progressive pedagogical
techniques into their teaching of writing to enhance instructional
interaction and to enable students to gain more confidence and proficiency
in their craft.  As of 2002, research indicates that today's media writing
teachers across the United States still largely cling to the traditional
media writing techniques and models that have long served academia and the
The attitudes of journalism educators toward embracing progressive
techniques (e.g., writing as process) do indicate a shift to more of a
coaching style in the writing classroom.  However, their behavior (teaching
practices) lags behind their inclinations.  As this research study has
revealed, "coaches " are not significantly different as teachers of writing
from "editors."  Media writing teachers tend to label themselves almost
evenly along philosophical lines into groups called "editors" and
"coaches."  But the behavioral differences are minimal, as the reluctance
to abandon traditional writing approaches remains significant.  For
example, when media writing teachers were asked to express their feelings
about various teaching activities, editors and coaches provided the
following information:
        • Both editors and coaches are most comfortable teaching news writing
skills, but rate their comfort below average in teaching public relations,
advertising, broadcast, and on-line writing skills.

        • Both editors and coaches feel most comfortable teaching grammar/language
skills, and having conferences with writing students.  They are less
comfortable with peer editing exercises.

        • Coaches are significantly more comfortable than editors teaching
broadcast writing skills, and organizing peer editing exercises.

Further, there does not appear to be evidence of emerging instructional
innovation on the part of media writing teachers to provide students with
resources, remediation and training that extends beyond the classroom.
        Specific research findings from the national media writing faculty survey
indicate that a new, more integrated paradigm in the teaching of writing
will likely emerge as educators reevaluate teaching styles and adopt
complementary practices to enhance both the writing process and the
finished product.

Findings include:
• 96% of editors prefer detailed critiques/editing on assignments, while
93% of coaches prefer the      same approach.  (Product approach)
• 69% of editors prefer more editing/proofreading assignments, and 68% of
coaches prefer the same.  (Product approach)
        • 67% of editors prefer more lectures on writing-related topics, while
coaches prefer them 62% of
        the time.  (Product approach)
        • 65% of editors allow student rewrite options on their writing, and
coaches allow them 71% of the
        time.  (Process approach)
        • 53% of editors encourage peer review/editing exercises, while 54% of
coaches do the same.
        (Process approach)
        • 62% of coaches introduce more writing coach techniques in/out of the
classroom, and 51% of
editors do the same.  (Process approach)
• 50% of editors provide students with prewriting exercises, and 54% of
coaches provide such exercises.  (Process approach).
        • Less than half of editors and coaches hold regularly scheduled
conferences with writing students,
        or assign more ungraded writing assignments.  Both techniques are
considered to be process
        writing approaches.

These and related findings about teaching styles and the ability to embrace
change have immediate implications in today's educational environment.  The
pressure of adding media convergence courses to curricula has already
become a reality in journalism and communications units across the
country.  According to this research study, convergence is rapidly gaining
acceptance in both accredited and non-accredited institutions.  Respondents
reported that 48% of journalism/communication units have already created
convergence classes for their curricula, and an additional 44% are planning
to add such courses in the near future. These figures suggest that the
growth of convergence curricula will require adaptation and innovation by
today's media writing faculty.  Yet, the research does not indicate that
such instructional flexibility currently exists among a majority of
journalism educators.  This may well prove problematic as media writing
teachers strive to provide their journalism and communication students with
the range of writing skills and experiences required by a rapidly changing
media environment.

Implications for Future Study

        The analysis of research findings from the national media writing faculty
survey is a significant and ongoing undertaking.  The researchers are
evaluating data that will generate further inquiry into such areas as a
comparison of respondents from accredited versus non-accredited
institutions, a comparison of male and female writing faculty, and an
assessment of student writing capabilities.  The goal of this research is
to continue to enrich the academic and professional body of knowledge of
the teaching of writing.

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Appendix 1

Mean Scores for Teaching Activities of  All Media Writing Teachers,
and Editors v. Coaches (1 = Low Attention, 5 = High Attention)

Teaching Activity                                                     All
Schools      Editors Coaches

News values (n = 267)   3.34    3.32    3.38
News Judgments (n = 262)        3.52    3.56    3.50
Newsgathering (n = 241)                                 3.47            3.39    3.58
Knowing readers (n = 246)       3.11    3.06    3.16
Grammar & AP Style (n = 272)    3.83    3.66    3.82
Sentence Structure (n = 256)    3.61    3.66    3.59
Story Structure (n = 276)       3.78    3.77    3.82
Prewriting activities (n = 168) 2.79    2.54    3.03*
News fact sheets (n = 155)      3.12    3.14    3.12
Story Models (n = 247)  3.45    3.50    3.43
Lead Writing  (n = 269) 4.02    3.99    4.06
Headline Writing (n = 47)       2.91    2.89    2.86
Non-graded drafts (n = 172)     3.24    3.14    3.40
Revising (n = 230)      3.67    3.59    3.78
Peer Editing (n = 128)  2.85    2.76    2.98
Student Conferences (n = 180)   2.98    3.10    2.92
Quizzes/Exams (n = 240) 3.00    3.09    2.90
Out-of-class wkshps (n = 62)    2.73    2.70    2.72
* (t = -2.753, df = 173, p < .007)

Appendix 2

Typical Writing Assignments in Introductory Writing Classes
(In Percentages)

Writing Assignments                  All Schools          Editors/Coaches

        Accident/Crime Stories  (n = 207)       55.1%           58.9%    58.0%
        Speech Coverage  (n = 214)      56.9            64.9       54.8
        Meeting Coverage (n = 31)       53.5            57.3       54.3
        Issue-Oriented Stories (n = 169)        44.9            46.5    46.8
        Personality Profile (n = 103)   27.4            28.6    29.3
        Personal Experience Writing (n = 27)      7.2             6.5     8.5
        Broadcast News Writing (n = 126)        33.5            35.1    33.5

        Accident/Crime Stories (n = 15)   3.9     4.9     3.2
        Speech Coverage (n = 51)        13.6    13.0    15.4
        Meeting Coverage (n = 31)         8.2     7.0     9.6
        Issue-Oriented Stories (n = 168)        44.7    44.9    48.4
        Personality Profile (n = 235)   62.5    64.9    66.5
        Personal Experience Writing (n = 92)    24.5    21.6    28.2
        Broadcast News Writing (n = 41) 10.9    11.9            10.6

        Persuasive Writing (n = 65)     17.3    17.3    18.6
        Journal Writing (n = 28)          7.4     4.3   10.6
        Query or Proposal Writing (n = 43)      11.4    10.8    12.8
        Advertising Copywriting (n = 69)        18.4    15.4    21.3
        PR Correspondence (n = 67)      17.8    17.8    18.1
        PR 'Backgrounders' (n = 63)     16.8    15.1    18.6
        PR fact sheets (n = 64) 17.0    16.8    17.6
        New Releases (n = 162)  43.1    43.2    45.2
        Press Kits (n = 50)     13.3    11.4    15.4
        Brochure Writing (n = 37)         9.8     9.2   10.6
        Public Service Announcements (n = 64)   17.0    17.3    17.0

Appendix 3

Typical Writing Assignments in Advanced Writing Classes
(In Percentages)

Writing Assignments                   All Schools        Editors/Coaches

        Accident/Crime Stories (n = 164)                43.6%   45.9%   44.1%
        Speech Coverage (n = 184)       48.9    60.0    43.1
        Meeting Coverage (n = 190)      50.5    58.4    47.9
        Issue-Oriented Stories (n = 254)        67.6    73.5    66.5
        Personality Profile (n = 132)   35.1    38.4    35.1
        Personal Experience Writing (n = 45)    12.0      8.6   16.0
        Broadcast News Writing (n = 92) 24.5    22.2    28.2

        Accident/Crime Stories (n = 23)   6.1     4.9     8.0           Speech Coverage (n =
55)     14.6    14.1    15.4
        Meeting Coverage (n = 41)       10.9    11.9    11.2
        Issue-Oriented Stories (n = 230)        61.2    65.9    62.8
        Personality Profile (n = 258)   68.6    71.4    70.7
        Personal Experience Writing (n = 121)   33.0    30.3    36.2
        Broadcast News Writing (n = 64) 17.0    15.7    19.7

        Persuasive Writing (n = 107)    28.5    29.2    29.8
         Journal Writing (n = 36)         9.6   10.3    10.1
        Query or Proposal Writing (n = 89)      23.4    23.8    25.0
        Advertising Copywriting (n = 47)        12.5    10.3    14.9
        PR Correspondence (n = 40)      10.6    10.3    11.7
        PR 'Backgrounders' (n = 51)     13.6    12.4    15.4
        PR fact sheets (n = 52) 13.8    13.0    15.4            New Releases (n = 86)   22.9    23.2    24.5
        Press Kits (n = 48)     12.8    10.8    15.4
        Brochure Writing (n = 49)       13.0    10.8    15.4
        Public Service Announcements (n=62)     16.5    16.8    16.5

"Searching for a New Paradigm:
Results of the National Media Writing Faculty Survey"


Mark Massé
Associate Professor
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Mark Popovich
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Department of Journalism
Ball State University
Muncie, IN 47306


The initial objective of this national media writing faculty survey was to
compile a contemporary profile of the typical U.S. journalism
educator.  This profile includes demographic data and information on
pedagogical attitudes, practices and resources.  The second, related
objective was to search for a new, more integrated paradigm in the teaching
of media writing—where instruction blends both product and process
techniques, enabling students to gain confidence and proficiency in their

Submitted to the Newspaper Division of the Association for Education in
Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) Annual Conference
Kansas City, MO, July-August 2003

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