Sunday, October 26, 2008

The one about blogging

This course began and I couldn’t believe we were expected to create a blog. I really felt like the lecturers were trying something new out on us and hadn’t really thought it through. This of course made me uncomfortable. It wasn’t going to be a hard news article that we would submit after making everything fit into the inverted pyramid. We were expected to create a blog on which I was expected to post things I had written for the whole world to see. I was not optimistic at all.

The prospect of working in a group also scared me because I know enough slackers in my tutorial group and I began seeing myself doing all the work. I believe at this age, with the different schedules that we have, we should have been given the option of choosing our groups. Yet, the group I was assigned in turned out better than I thought. Although I still maintain that group work at the university level is impractical, I did see the benefit of working in a group for the blog plan. In retrospect, I learned to manage my time better in that week because I didn’t always know when I’d have to avail myself to meet with my group. We weren’t always immediately productive when it came to the ideas, but when decisions had to be made, we seemed willing.

When it came to sitting down and writing something, I often found it difficult to beginning simply because I didn’t like the prospect of someone reading and then commenting on my work. With the blogging genre defining what type of work I had to produce, I could no longer hide behind an inverted pyramid- hard news story that only my tutor would see. I wouldn’t say I found the blog restricting, but rather to open to my own interpretation. My personality would be open to judgement and I often found myself altering my work to suite what I thought other people wanted to hear. I saw this with the letter I wrote to myself. I had such a different letter planned, but after reading a few others, I figured maybe that’s what I should be doing. I learned my lesson fast, after reading my tutors comment. From then on, I figured that I had been part of writing the blog plan and the genre we’d defined was what was restricting me. Yes, I was blogging and other first years would potentially be reading it, but ours was a best friend relationship type of blog and I have enough best friends to know that our relationship has its breakdowns. This is how I constantly over came my fear of posting my pieces. Working on the opinion piece was one of my favourite assignments. I found it easy to speak to my source about here first year at Rhodes because I thought she had a story to tell. Our blog was intended to take the best friend approach and I though I’d like to speak to someone who has learned her lesson hard and would just tell her story from her heart. I saw this assignment as a sort of intervention conversation. If I was speaking to my best friend, this profile would have been equivalent to a heart to heart.

My source did have more she wanted to say but constantly held back because of the idea of being interview. Our interview turned into a session in which my source began to open up her heart. Even though she grew comfortable, exploring the dimensions of her lessons, there were often moments where she would stop and remember that I’m taking notes and recording the interview. To truly get the depth of the interview, after many failed persuasions, I agreed to regard her deeper confessions and thoughts as “off the record”. While I was putting together the profile, I would often think about the things she said off the record and wish I could include them in to the profile. Her experience comes with a wealth of lessons and in truth I was tempted to add one quote as I remembered it, thinking she would understand once it’s all written. Now, thinking ethically, this wouldn’t be right, but did I have the right to call her up and convince her that this quote would mean the difference between my a 1st and a 2nd for this assignment? I battled with this one. Journalists are known to be pushy and I know I could be, but I had already promised her it would be confidential. I think to some extent, during the interview I could have pushed a little harder for her to speak on record but the question at the back of my mind from the moment I approached her was, “why do I think I have a right to look into her life and share it with the rest of the world? Why should she tell me her story?” With this question in my head, I decided to use what I had and paint her story and try to capture the essence of what was really on her heart in a way that would liberate those who would read the story.

Overall, I believe that although blogging isn’t a conventional form of journalism, one can use it as a tool to practice the conventions of journalism. I definitely think blogs are a medium as good as newspapers and it’s what people put in there that can make it journalism. I believe my posts aren’t conventional journalistic pieces but I used my assignment pieces to practice what I know about journalism. I was writing and writing well is not something I think I have mastered at the end of my first year, but this gave me some practice. Through immersing myself into first year conversations, I also picked on things that were spoken about, even things said in passing. From that I can say, blogging doesn’t have to be journalism but it can be used to perfect the art of conventional journalism.

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