Have you read Jeff Jarvis’ Buzzmachine blog? Well you should!
In a blogpost earlier this week Jeff made the point that:
We in media have a bad habit of viewing the world in our image. We think the internet is a medium. I say instead it’s a place.
This really struck a chord with me and highlighted one of the frustrations I have with journalism school. We’re taught the internet is a medium in a separate way to radio and TV. Yes, the point about multi-media is made and that we can incorporate visual and audio content, but we’re taught the idea of a web article in an old media way.
Maybe it’s a deliberate move to make students more comfortable with the web. But I think from the very outset it should be instilled that the internet is just a place.
One of the frustrations of people new to blogging is “Is anyone actually reading this? What’s the point?”. Their expectation being that if content is simply put out there then it will attract a readership. A good comparison is to producing a pamphlet and only distributing it in one corner of one very small shop. You need to get content out there!
Far more important than being taught “web writing style” is web promotion. RSS and syndication, twitter and social media, comments, trackbacks, links. All this should be taught alongside the actual practice of journalism. Web writing style is easy to adapt to if you’re comfortable with print journalism. But getting a readership and awareness for your work can have a massive effect on your employability post-graduation.