Jumping off of the CUNY discussion from yesterday comes this piece in today’s Times about how a Swiss magazine decided to cover the recent riots in the Paris suburbs. It’s a great comparison of how traditional methods are being replaced by the immediacy of the new tools.

The blog turned their work routine upside down. Typically, they would do their reporting, then write the main piece for the magazine, and finally perhaps, a related feature or a reporter’s notebook.

But with the blog, said Serge Michel, a world affairs editor who opened the office, “we report and immediately write and publish an initial draft, giving a first tentative shape to the narrative.” When the staff members sit down to compose that piece for the magazine, the reporters have days of this “flow writing” behind them.

And later…

The reporters say they found a new relationship with their readers, who are invited to leave comments. The journalists engage in the discussions, and have used reader feedback as inspiration for more posts.

I wonder as I read articles like this what the demands will be of our current and future students in terms of writing. I’m not suggesting that the basics of written communication will change that much, but I am suggesting that the purposes of that communication as we currently teach it are going to have to be reconsidered. Writing the essay or the narrative or the story for the teacher only these days is to take a very narrow view of what writing is for. That’s not to say everything gets published. But as I walked through the hallways last week at the semester break and saw teachers attacking stacks of final, culminating papers that their students had “handed in” instead of published to a wider audience (and potentially more effective assessment,) I couldn’t help thinking how much our students are missing in terms of what it really means to write these days.
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