Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Yet another edition of Writing for the Media in the works [and other cliches]

First this: My first writing tutor at university, Rosalie de Rosset, tried to instill in me a phobia of clichés, which she would ridicule without mercy. So it's with trepidation that I ask that you - and she - indulge me in this post

No one can be more surprised than I am (cliché 1) that the text I pull together in those months before South African's first democratic election is still considered useful enough to would-be journalists and trainers that the publishers want yet another edition.

A recent letter from folks at Oxford University Press noted that Writing for the Media 3e is being used at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, Central University of Technology, University of the Free State, Johannesburg University, Tshwane University of Technology, University of Pretoria, University of South Africa, Vaal University of Technology, Durban Institute of Technology, University of KwaZulu Natal, University of Zululand, University of Venda, North West University, Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the University of Cape Town.

I'm aware that much, perhaps the most, of the book's value is due to the input from colleagues across the industry in South Africa and further afield. I'll again be knocking on doors for input and, if all goes well, the 4th edition will be published in the months before this country's third general election. A gap of about 14 years.

Of course, a great deal has changed, in the country and in our industry. I’ll certainly be looking more closely at how technology has changed our media landscape and specifically how once-clear divisions between “professional” and “popular” communication merge and blend online as traditional differences between message senders and receivers, producers and consumers are replaced by a vast, fluid, ongoing, multi-voiced discourse (Burnett and Marshall, 2003).

The networked digital environment has meant an end to media forms that are discrete or concrete. With it has come the blurring of the boundaries between journalists and their audiences as millions of individuals and organizations have discovered and begun to exercise the ability to interact and express themselves online. Journalists and audiences are is becoming intertwined in complex and little-understood ways. Tricky stuff.

On the other hand [need to get my clichés quotient up], I’m also mindful of Solomon’s wisdom- "there’s nothing new under the sun" - and will aim to highlight those elements which are constant, such as the human need for news and information that can assist with decision-making and social cohesion.

Clearly, putting together the next edition of this text will be no small challenge. And so these final clichés – which are no less true for that - all comments, suggestions or contributions will be most welcome. My copy deadline is February 2008. So, I, er, we had better get to it.

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