In writing my own blog, I thought it would be a good idea to research what other students and journalists were doing. While searching I came across A J-School Year. This blog is written by University of South Carolina students who are supervised by Doug Fisher. After reading the blog I decided to email Mr. Fisher and ask him more about the program that he runs. He was kind enough to let me publish his answers:
Is maintaining the blog part of a class that your students take?
No. This was a voluntary, by invitation only group. Wanted to have a certain section of students — good and struggling and acrosss all sequences.
What do you want your students to take away from the blogging experience?
That it gives you more of a chance to write — after all, isn’t that what most students tell me they want to do? And it gives you a place to tell future employers to go look at what you can do. I also wanted them to get the idea of writing for the Web and that the “currency” is linking, etc. So far, that has been of limited success.
Do you feel that bloggers will one day be considered journalists (as the first blogger was recently admitted into a White House press conference)?
I’m a blogger. I consider myself a journalist. I report as well as comment on my blog (http://commonsensej.blogspot.com). Look at the work I’ve done on the “whois” problem. Or the little piece I posted the other day on newspaper Web sites’ dominance. Of course, I also use the blog to point out and comment on editing mistakes and issues and to comment in general on what I think are relevant industry issues. With J-Year, I also considered the students reporters — reporting on what a year in J-school is like.
Or will credible journalists adopt the blogs as a separate outlet for news dissemination?
Yes, too. They already do in many cases. Look at the New Mexican site where its reporters are blogging, or Ventura (Calif.) Star. Or the huge number of reporter blogs at the Spokesman Review in Spokane. SacBee’s statehouse folks also do it, as do many others every day. And several newspapers have successfully used blogs during disasters, especially last summer’s hurricanes. And we showed with the Wireless Election Connection (http://wec.textamerica.com) this summer in covering the conventions and elections that mobile Web logs can be viable journalistic channels.
How have students reacted to the blogging experience and what do you think they have gained from it?
Not as much as I had hoped. I have several students who told me they were enthusiastic and have yet to post. Too busy, they say. Whatever. My fear in talking to many students is that they still do not “get it” — that they are educating themselves for what has been, not what is to come. Those who have posted, I think, have gained a new understanding of the power of the format. One woman, for instance, put a fairly scathing post up about her TV job search and gained national attention. Another quickly learned that one should ask for permission before posting from a
private e-mail. All useful things …