This morning a friend and former colleague of mine, Luke Waltzer, turned me on to a wonderful class project that he has been working on with two professors at Baruch College. Professors Bridgett Davis and Roz Bernstein’s students have been working together to create a distributed publication of their journalistic writings throughout the five boroughs of NYC titled Writing New York: Posts from the Boroughs and Beyond. The raison dâ€™Ãªtre of this blog is as follows:
Neighborhood news has never had its fair share of coverage in the mainstream press. Local papers do their best to report local stories-both news and features-but much is missed. Beyond the sensational stories, little is written about everyday folk who provide the energy, chaos, rhythm and texture of community life.
A major reason for this oversight is that coverage seldom comes from reporters with intimate knowledge of these communities. Thanks to the internet, that glaring omission can be eliminated. What if there was a place in cyberspace where journalists could post ideas and observations before they became full-fledged stories? What if they could join into a dialogue with other journalists about these posts, honing and expanding their original ideas? What if citizens could weigh in as the stories evolved? And what if stories developed from this shared process ultimately appeared on the site?
Writing New York: Posts from the Boroughs and Beyond is an experiment in achieving this type of social and community media. Written by two Baruch College, CUNY journalism classes as a blog, the site is a shared space where students can record impressions and observations and share information as they report stories on their neighborhoods. Organized into ten community teams based on the boroughs and beyond, the groups each post weekly, creating a site that serves multiple purposes: as a resource for both classes, a vehicle for conversation between classmates and the larger blogisphere community, and as a hotbed of fresh ideas that will naturally lead to original neighborhood stories.
This site acknowledges that bloggers are an important part of the media landscape.
Wow, I think this mission statement for the class and the the use of the blog to accomplish this is quite powerful. Doing this as part of a “real school” classroom that involves an apprenticeship for aspiring journalism students makes it that much more impressive. I love it when smart people wrap their heads around these tools and put them to work in unbelievably intelligent ways -particularly when it is in relationship to the classroom. Great stuff coming out of the Bernard L. Schwartz Communication Institute (BLSCI) up there in the greatest city on Earth (period!). See the BLSCI blog cac.ophony to follow their work more closely.
As an afterthought: I will point out to all you Drupal nerds that WordPress made it that much more attractive and easier for everyone involved, according to a few credible sources! 🙂 In fact, there is a plugin for WordPress by Alex King titled Articles that would make this site more extensible in terms of indexing the articles and separating them out by theme, category tags, etc. Just another way to start re-defining the possibilities of thinking both within and beyond the generic boundaries of the blog with all this cool stuff people are doing.
Thanks a lot for the plug, Jim.