This week I was reminded of how important it is for students in journalism to blog. As our department (English) works toward a Journalism major in the next few years, several of those planning for this were discussing the role that blogs might play, especially in internships and gaining experience in online journalism. If you dip into blogs about journalism today, or read up on what's going on in the field, you can't help but realize how important it is to get students to build an online identity with plenty of clips to break into the field. Today this is done through blogging.
While our Journalism major is few years off, I have my students doing blogs in my ENG 274 Creative Non-Fiction Workshop today. (Surprisingly, I have no journalism students, but plenty of poets and a few Writing and Literature majors.) The students are remarkably good writers in that their grammar is really solid. I am using blogs here to let them respond to the readings in class--for some level of accountability for keeping up with the reading, as well as to share their creative work. (This creative writing class naturally doesn't include a midterm and a final--just creative work and a final portfolio. Instead the course proposal requires a series of 'response papers' to readings, to these are done online.) Just ask if you want access to our blog roll here. (I don't think we want the whole wide world to weigh in on their creative work. They are sharing some really personal stories.)
I am struck that Web 2.0 tools are not one-size-fits-all. Surely, the role of low- to mid-stakes writing is different for different classes. In some ways, having a thriving, polished blog for a creative writer or a journalist is like an ePortfolio--a calling card to four-year schools and eventually getting some freelance assignments and a book deal....
I plan to work with my students near the end of the term and let them set up a 'professional' blog, posting their best work and starting a program of regular writing. Today, one student said she is choosing between creative writing programs in CUNY with an eye toward one day getting her MFA. Wonderful! I thought: she can keep her online identity the whole way through! I have to say I am sold on the idea of blogs for professional writers. At the very start of this, I was interviewing several founders of blog companies back in 2003. I remember thinking: this is the end of my career as a working journalist. (It was.) But there are real benefits for new writers, and the price of free, or nearly free, for blog tools can't be beat when you are learning the craft of writing! (If we just could figure out once again to allow writers to earn a living at this all this 'content creation.' That is, of course, a subject for another post....)