Revision self-assessment

Blog ยป Revision self-assessment

Posted on 24 May 2013 23:38

This piece started out as a personal project - one of the easiest ways to gain professional experience in journalism (or perhaps writing in general) is to work freelance, via the Internet, but such writing never felt as polished or serious to me as writing for an actual publication. As I write fairly informally myself, and have never been shy about enjoying pieces that subvert the guidelines of their genre and push the envelope with regard to stylistic elements, subject matter, tone, and so on and so forth, I wanted to take some time to examine this assumption. The planning process for this project was fairly easy; I already had contacts working professionally and otherwise (assuming here that the definition of a professional is someone who gets paid), and was fairly certain they'd be able to offer me some insight into the writing process and editorial process behind both traditional and Internet journalism.

When I began working on this project, I was in a media studies class (more on the basis of personal interest rather than professional intent) and I was therefore able to use what I learned in that class as insight to work into this project. I consume a lot of media on a daily basis, in terms of reading reviews and news articles and tracking cultural trends and developments, which turned out to be hugely helpful in my search for examples. My outline for this project was based around these examples, as well as the general aspects I was comparing and contrasting; I listed those first and then dug through my research for supporting evidence, and from there it was fairly simple to extrapolate on the sociological implications of the differences and similarities.

Before I wrote this piece, I had very little experience with conducting interviews; the insight I gained from these is perhaps my favorite part of the project. After all, it's not every day you have the chance to pick a veteran reporter's brains. I enjoyed the opportunity to engage with my research. Usually such a process is very one-sided; you can't ask a book to clarify, for example, or give it a scenario and ask for its reaction. Research conducted by talking to (real, living) people feels much more involved and certainly far more specific in terms of how you can use it as evidence - after all, you can only speculate about authorial intent; in an interview, you can flat-out ask. I also enjoyed doing deep readings of articles I normally wouldn't consider in such depth - most of the time I only engage with journalism on a very surface level, or perhaps at most technically. I appreciate a turn of phrase or a particular image, but I don't think about it in a larger societal context.

Given more time, I would perhaps like to make this a larger commentary on the evolution of journalism as a whole. While I'm fairly certain such a work would need to be published in several volumes (at least) in order to be comprehensive, I would have liked to make this a sprawling commentary on the development of the newspaper, from the beginning of the American independent press tradition through muckrakers and yellow journalism to the penny paper, moving through history to where we are today, with digital delivery and papers published solely on the Internet and so forth. Obviously I wouldn't be able to conduct the same sort of interview-based research into the earliest forms of journalism, but I would like to follow the evolution of journalism and perhaps extrapolate societal trends through the entire development of the field, rather than just stopping in and taking what amounts to a Polaroid, in the scale of things. I think I would also have liked to conduct my interview with Mr. Berger simultaneously with the other interview, in order to make sure both interviews complemented each other in subject matter and insight.

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