brooksmetzler

I'm terrible at this sort of thing


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My Future as a Writer

This semester has been an interesting one for me. Of all my classes, I’d have to say that this one has probably been the best, albeit frustrating at times. I’ve been able to learn a lot about what my future may hold when it comes to school and my professional career, mostly through my interview with Dr. Camille Broadway. I genuinely had many questions for her and it was good to clear some of my uncertainties up. I’m still, and never will be, 100% certain what my future as an academic writer will hold, but I definitely have a better idea of it after this class.

Getting into your questions, I first had to think about who exactly the audience in journalism is, and it varies. For instance, the journal I read was obviously geared towards professors teaching journalism, which is vastly different from writing in the field of journalism. What I can generalize, though, is that fact-checking is always going to be important, especially in the professional realm, because the audience is instilling a certain trust that the writer knows their stuff. In order to be successful in this field, I’ve learned you must also know how to do good research, that you should have your writing checked multiple times by different people, and most importantly, to accept that there will always be someone out there who is a better writer than you are. As far as the expectations I feel I can meet, I know that I will be solid in the grammatical and ethical standards. I definitely need to work on developing a more thorough research technique and also lend more of my work to peer revision.

It is important to know your strengths and weaknesses in as many aspects of your being as possible, but as it pertains to academic research, my strengths are as follows. I know that I’m good at locating the right information and being able to incorporate and, if necessary, explain how it relates to my work. As far as weaknesses go, I feel like I need to diversify my selection of resources, as I often take the easy way out by only including internet resources. Another weakness for me would be the actual citation, as I still get confused about how to incorporate and properly cite things within my papers. My familiarity with research within the field is definitely stronger than it was at the beginning of the semester, but that’s a given. Mostly, I’ve noticed that research within the field focuses on emerging and changing technology, as well as teaching and media ethics.

Another set of strengths and weaknesses that is important are my strengths and weaknesses as an actual academic writer. One strength, that can also be considered a weakness depending on the application, is that I tend to draw out my thoughts when writing, so I end up saying a lot about a little. Among my other strengths are my spelling and grammatical skills. As far as weaknesses go, I feel like I sometimes struggle with organization, as well as having hesitance about getting my copy edited, and having overall confidence about what I’ve written. This confidence issue is one that I understand plagues most writers and it’s just something I’ll have to work on as I continue to grow as a writer. The best resources I can think of would be first practicing writing as much as possible and second reading as much as possible, from all different sorts of literary works, articles, and reports.

I know that I still have a long way to go as a writer, and I also know that I will never stop improving. This course has played its part in helping me further figure out where I want to go in life, as well as some of the tools I’m going to need to get there. Overall, I am going to focus most on practicing the craft, reading, and learning as much as I possibly can bear to.


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Writing Assignment Collection

For my second A-option assignment, I chose to do the writing assignment collection. My first order of business was to search the internet for examples of writing assignments in upper-level journalism courses. Surprisingly, a simple search provided me with many different examples from different nationwide colleges and universities. The first resource I found was on Penn State University’s website. Here, they listed several writing assignments in order of when they are due throughout the semester. The assignments start with a simple observation assignment, where students must pick an unknowing person to observe while they work in a public place, then write a 500-word story about said observations. Other interesting assignments include an interview, where students are simply required to interview someone whose work they find interesting or important. Further assignments involve observing local happenings and reporting on them. These include attending a public speech, interviewing either a firefighter or local police officer about the operation of their unit, attending and covering a local court hearing, and  covering a meeting of a local or state government body or agency. All of these assignments have roughly the same requirements, as far as length in both words and pages, and are meant to help students see and practice real-world application of their skills.

Another resource I discovered was actually a WordPress account, run by a professor of journalism at San Jose State University. This particular blog was for the Print, Online, and Magazine Writing course at the university. Through some investigation, I found several assignments that were unique to this particular course. First of which was a short news story; students were given a specific topic in class, then prompted to write 300 to 350 words on that given topic. The second assignment was quite similar to the previous interview assignment, however, students are prompted to interview someone, then write a profile of that person, which would include a description of them as well as direct quotes. A third assignment, which I also found quite interesting, was a column commentary assignment. In this assignment, students are asked to create their own topical commentary, personal meditation, or slice of life column of 200 to 250 words. This assignment, as it’s stated, is meant to be one in which to express yourself.

In addition to discovering these insightful websites, I was also able to ask Dr. Camille Broadway about some of her own writing assignments during my interview with her a few weeks ago. Dr. Broadway was happy to share some of these topics with me, which were quite similar to the topics I found in my internet search. She first gave some examples of prompts for the writing and reporting classes. Of many, she explained that common topics are covering a speech or government meeting, looking through internet databases to find information related to the local community, and non-writing based assignments like producing stories, blogs, and running a Twitter site. The thinking skills side had much fewer, with Dr. Broadway giving one example: finding a mass communication issue and then applying a radical viewpoint to it. In addition to these writing assignment topics, Dr. Broadway also gave me a copy of one of her rubrics, a rubric she explains is used for almost all of her writing assignments. The most important item on this rubric: fact errors, which amount to a 35 point deduction each.

Overall, this research showed me many things about the writing that will occur in this discipline. First, I now know that most of the assignments are field-based, which is good considering the nature of the field. I also learned a lot from the grading rubric given to me by Dr. Broadway. She may only be one professor, but the rubric gives a good idea of what most journalism professors are going to look for in student’s assignments.


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A Different Sort of Response Post

In light of my meeting this week with Dr. Broadway, I have decided to go to a different professional’s article, which was recently posted in the Driver’s Seat column Wall Street Journal. At the end of our meeting, Dr. Broadway mentioned Dan Neil, a Pulitzer Prize-winning automotive writer whom I hadn’t heard of up until this point. Appeasing my curiosity, I did a quick Google search and came across Neil’s review of the new Cadillac ATS, which can be found here. You can find my comment response at the bottom of the page.


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Interviewing a Journalism Professor

For one of my optional assignments, I chose to interview a professor within my discipline at Georgia Southern. After some quick research, I came across Dr. Camille Broadway and set up an appointment. Here is a summarization of my talk with Dr. Broadway.

Our light introductory conversation led to me recording information before I even began with my interview questions. Our conversation began with me explaining the objectives of our English 1102 course and how our research papers and assignments are structured. That of course sparked some conversation that answered parts of several of my interview questions right off the bat. Dr. Broadway first explained that there are two types of courses that upper level journalism majors must take: field skills-related courses and critical thinking-related courses. She explained that field skills courses are meant to prepare students for writing and reporting news. Within these courses, heavy emphasis is placed on researching in order to prepare news articles. She mentioned that people are the main sources in these works, but other important sources are existing stories, documents, and public records. Dr. Broadway also gave some examples of critical thinking courses. She said these are mainly courses concerning effects of mass media, communication theory, communication research, and communication law. The research, she explained, mostly concerns how communication effects large audiences, and thus is mainly found in scholarly peer-reviewed journals.

After our lengthy introductory talk, I decided to head back to my actual interview questions and proceeded to ask Dr. Broadway some questions regarding her own experience in the discipline.

Question 1: What got you interested in pursuing and eventually teaching journalism?

Dr. Broadway started becoming interested in journalism in college. She says she started out as an English major, but after getting a job as a movie reviewer for her college paper, decided it wasn’t for her. Her mother is also a journalism professor and teaches at University of Tennessee Chattanooga. After realizing she did not want to be an entertainment writer, Dr. Broadway got into news writing and eventually worked her way to the top of her college newspaper, working in almost every position within it along the way.

Question 2: How long have you been teaching journalism? What other institutions have you taught at?

Dr. Broadway began teaching journalism courses in 2000, while she was still a graduate student at the University of Florida. She then taught at the University of Texas at Arlington for six years before coming to Georgia Southern University, where she has now spent two years.

Question 3: Have you had other experience within the field? If so, where have you previously worked?

In addition to her experience with the college newspaper, Dr. Broadway also had six years experience working at the Chattanooga Times. She says she left her position at the paper, because it was changing to a different format that she did not like, so she took a buyout and decided to go to graduate school.

Question 4: What are some pieces of advice you would give to students who are interested in pursuing a journalism major?

Out of many possible pieces of advice, Dr. Broadway explained a few which she believes are most important. First, she advises students to never miss an opportunity to practice their writing skills, adding that even though it may not be something you want to write about, that you should still take that opportunity to improve yourself as a writer. She then said that the best writers are the ones who are never truly satisfied with their writing, because there is always more to learn and improve on. Her second big piece of advice is to gain experience by joining student publications, as these will help journalism students get their crucial internships. Her third and final piece of advice for students is to figure out what they want to write about, then choose a minor that makes sense from that. For example, I asked her what I should choose for my minor. Considering my desire to be in an automotive writing position, Dr. Broadway suggested I possibly choose a technology of engineering minor, as it would give me a better understanding of exactly what I’ll be writing about.

Main Questions

Question 5: What are some important skills that every journalism student must possess?

In response to this question, Dr. Broadway first says that one of the most important skills for students to possess are storytelling skills. More specifically, she says they need to have a knack for picking out details, adapting writing to their audience, and having an understanding of language. She also states that it is important to have strong research skills, specifically, knowing how to gather information and sources outside of Google. Another important aspect that she says should be a no-brainer, but that a surprising number of students neglect to do, is to read and watch what you want to do in the field. For example, she recalls a broadcast student who, when asked what news programs she watched, responded with “none.” Along with these big essentials, come “softer” skills that are necessary. Dr. Broadway emphasizes that interpersonal skills are an example of this. She says that successful journalists don’t necessarily have to be extroverts, but that they should understand how to communicate and most importantly be good listeners.

Question 6: What types of writing occur in upper-division journalism courses? Could you give some examples of major writing assignments?

In answering this question, Dr. Broadway went back to the two types of classes and explained from there. In writing and reporting classes, typical assignments include covering speeches, government meetings, and other local events. Within that type lies investigative journalism, where she says students can expect to search databases, find information related to their community, and write a report around that. In the critical thinking-type courses Dr Broadway says students are usually asked to simply find a mass communication issue and relate it to mass communication as a whole. In addition to traditional writing assignments, she also says that students can expect to produce storyboards, blogs, and keep Twitter accounts.

Question 7: Where would you advise that journalism students look first when beginning research for a writing assignment?

Once again, Dr. Broadway said we must look at the two different types of courses to answer this question. In writing and reporting skills classes, she says it is important to first look at databases that contain past news articles relating to what the student will be writing about. For the critical thinking skills courses, Dr. Broadway advises students to first look at peer-reviewed journals, mentioning EBSCO Communication and Journalism Search Complete to find them. Along with this advice, she states it is also important to look through the reference lists of these peer reviewed journals and make note of which articles are cited most and subsequently look into these articles as well.

Question 8: Is there strong focus put on reference citation within majors classes? How would you say this compares to work within the actual field?

Dr. Broadway states that there is strong focus put on intellectual property and making sure it is properly credited. On the same note, she does explain that there is a big difference between journalistic and traditional citation, but when it comes down to it, she says that both are generally about making sure the referenced individual or otherwise gets credit. She goes on to say that she would much rather have students over-attribute when it comes to including sources than under-attribute their sources. Briefly, Dr. Broadway explains that AP style, which includes those less-formal citations is the form used in the field, whereas APA style is seen most often in upper-level research projects.

Question 9: How are most assignments in your upper-level courses graded? Is it content based, or do you look for other things?

In answering this question, Dr. Broadway was sure to make it clear that both content and grammar are equally important factors in her grading of assignments. She notes that students will lose credibility with their audience immediately if there are grammar or factual errors in their work, and that this of course remains true and even more important when students get into the field. In addition to this intuition  Dr. Broadway also gave me a copy of a typical rubric for writing assignments in journalism classes, which I will go into detail about in my other A assignment.

 

All in all I found this meeting with Dr. Camille Broadway extremely informative and even enjoyable. I was able to not only get answers to the questions relating to this course, but also voice my questions regarding my own unique situation and thus gain some more insight on what exactly I should be doing to get into the career I hope to be in one day.


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Journal Analysis Research

All-in-all, my journal analysis research is completed, save a few items. I’ve enjoyed this assignment quite a bit more than the discourse overview, as it is much more straight forward and easy to find information. The parts I’ve been focusing on most are the article structure and content section. My journal is arranged in that the several studies are first in the journal and are followed by separate book reviews later on in the journal. Uniformity is definitely present in the journal I’ve chosen, as all of the study-based articles share the same headings, save a few differences. Each of the study-based articles also include methodology and literature review sections. Within the methodology section, there is detailed information regarding exactly how research was conducted and gathered in each scenario. In addition to these two sections, which showed up in every article, there were also sections containing the actual questions for each of the studies. Going back to the beginning of my journal’s articles, you see repeating themes as well. Every one has an abstract, which is about five sentences long, and is followed by five to eight introductory paragraphs. Staying on the first page, the author/s information, including their places of study and job title, is listed at the bottom of the page. And now, jumping to the end of the articles, my journal’s authors cite their sources within endnotes, which of course range in length, and follow the actual written conclusion of the study. In working on the journal analysis worksheet, I’ve discovered many things I may not have otherwise noticed about my journal. As I complete my research, I will hopefully be able to create a substantial journal article of my own for this major assignment.


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Crossing the Channel (A Response Post)

I return to Jeff Jarvis’ blog this week to find some insight on innovation going on in other parts of the world. Germany is in my top three as far as places I want to travel to and he mentions traveling to Germany quite often because he sees innovation taking place here. So, however trivial my attraction may be, I proceeded to read through the article. He uses John Paton, a sucessful pioneer of digital-first news who’s work was overlooked in America because it was in Spanish. It was only when Paton took over two English language papers that the world took notice of his innovative work. Jarvis introduces Paton in order to better explain why he keeps traveling to Germany. Wolfgang Blau, a sucessful editor-in-chief for an online news source, stands out to Jarvis because of his innovative ideas, but, much like the case with Paton, his ideas aren’t influencing the English-speaking world, because they are in German. Jarvis’ post is also meant to congratulate Blau, as he was just offered a job at The Guardian, Jarvis’ favorite newspaper and one he feels will challenge the major publications in the United States in this new digital age.

This brief article stood out to me because it was centered around another country’s innovative minds. The point Jarvis is trying to make, I think, is that the great media powers in our country need to put more effort into exploring what innovative ideas are taking place abroad, even if it means having to break language barriers in the process.

Within this posting, Jarvis includes three external links. The first being to a previous posting of his own, regarding the change in the newspaper industry that is taking place currently. The other two are links to official announcements of Wolfgang Blau’s acceptance to The Guardian; on The Guardian’s own website and Zeit Online (Blau’s online news site).


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Profession Themes

As I look through current calls for papers, academic journals, and studies, I am finding that one theme presents itself the most often. This theme is a product of the point in time we are living in. More specifically, it regards how technology is changing the field of journalism and in turn what needs to be done to keep up with the changes. A majority of the articles in my journal, for example, regard the teaching of new media practices and making sure that students interested in the field are learning what they need to in order to be beneficial in the actual field. In other calls for papers I have come across, it is evident that important traditions in journalism are still being stressed. Things like media ethics, media law, and the business side of media production.

This recurring theme of journalism in the modern age of technology undoubtedly makes sense. Journals and universities are looking for academics who are able to write about and offer insight on new technology and how it’s affecting and will continue to affect the field in the future. The other themes make sense too, as it is difficult to enstill knowledge on a new technology within the field if students do not have a strong understanding of the basics. With more and more new studies, there will come more and more understanding of just what this new technology means for the industry and discipline as a whole, but for now, there is a lot that is still unknown.