Tag Archives: journalism

digital media: why think?

From The Mechanical Bride, McLuhan, 1967 (1951″>caption id=”” align=”alignleft” width=”299″] From The Mechanical Bride, McLuhan, 1967The Mechanical Bride haunts the interwebs.Both texts myopically focus on readers as bored passive consumers and writers as lackeys to the market. While they both cover (rather than question”>/caption]I just looked over two texts from Rutledge for possible use in digital writing and rhetoric courses, and came away disappointed. Saddened. Without anything good to say. Both books give an unintentionally clear look into the cold heart of darkness that is written mass media. Neither delivers what they suggest they will. Both have a distinctive ordour of journalism-as-marketing-the-brand shaping both the texts themselves and the advice they present as understanding.Writing and Editing for Digital Media is misnamed. Its emphasis is on writing and editing for digital marketing.Digital Innovations for Mass Communications has a similar problem in the title: There aren’t any real innovations in the book so much as continuations of the what McLuan critiqued in the 1940s. The Mechanical Bride haunts the interwebs.Both texts myopically focus on readers as bored passive consumers and writers as lackeys to the market. While they both cover changes in media distribution, they do so superficially, and without concern for semiotic changes in affordances, rhetorical function or situation. They build their work on the purported commonalities: this web thing – it’s not that different when you get right down to it, and Good Writing is Universally Good Writing, as it was codified, variously, by StrunkNWhite, Orwell, and Confucius. Their own directive is poorly worded, oddly aligning “a person writing” with “the principles are”: “Whether a person is writing a news story, novel, letter to the editor, or advertising copy, the principles of good writing are the same.” (Writing for Digital Media, 1.)  Gertrude Stein is just below the surface:

Whether a person is writing. A news story novel, letter, to the editor or advertising. Copy the principles of good writing. The same.

Not far off from How To Write.

In keeping with the easy emphasis on The Universal, the text gives the typical (copy and pasted) lists of Advice (active! verbs!). What seems new are tricks of how to generate heads using Wordle, and how to lace up stories with words planted for SEO. But the goal of the advice betrays the mindset of a marketeer, c 1955: Drugstore shelf space and the cover photo used to be the magic for selling pulp; today, keywords are the new currency.

noindent”>You lace up your text, not to create a better article, and not to inform your readers, but to up the article’d search hits. The writers of this text are even chary of suggesting the search-engine optimized article is going to be read: the aim is not reading or any universal but to “further the likelihood of your pages coming up in searches.” Of course, works need to be found, (Morville at findablity.org, now retired, and Ambient Findability) but the aim in lacing up in search terms is to spoof Google into a first-page listing – and readers into clicking the ads.

As for readers: Here’s Digital Innovations’s simplistic sense of audience as content consumer motivated by desire: bored, superficial, but thrifty.

noindent”>And here is the obligatory nod to convergence culture – the very idea that makes both these texts untenable. Digital Innovations gives a nod to Henry Jenkins’s, keeping the focus on his head-shot rather than his ideas:

noindent”>But with the next paragraph, they change the direction, away from Jenkins’s emphasis on the activity of the consumer driven by unnamable desire and towards the institutionalized presentation within museums.

noindent”>This is less a remix of Jenkins than a selective appropriation. Jenkins’s focuses on pro-sumer agency with “A whole range of new technologies enable consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media content and in the process, these technologies have altered the ways that consumers interact with core institutions of government, education, and commerce.” But there’s nothing like the institute of a museum to say Hands Off the Content! Stay behind the velvet rope, children. These artifacts are fragile. They need to be handled by the professionals.

noindent”>Digital rhetoric is at cross-purposes with these examples of digital marketing-journalism. So where are these two texts useful? In courses that look at how the print market is driven. In courses engaged in media archaeology. In courses looking at digital rhetoric in order to question what is being presented as mainstream values. In courses that aim at authorizing the digital reader, that aim at giving the digital reader some agency other than consumption.

bookmarks for December 27th, 2012

bookmarks for June 23rd, 2011 through July 29th, 2011

bookmarks for March 13th, 2011 through March 15th, 2011

bookmarks for March 9th, 2011 through March 12th, 2011

bookmarks for January 28th, 2011 through February 3rd, 2011

  • Why The Daily Is So Yesterday – from tidBITS, good commentary on the yesterDaily. "The Daily has been compared to USA Today, which made a splash when it debuted in 1982 with its challenges to the traditional newspaper model." but it's lamer than USA Today because we now read from multiple sources. – (journalism thedeathly murdoch DOA )
  • Less Text, Please: Contemporary Reading Behaviors and Short Formats | I’d Rather Be Writing – Mid-length consideration from a tech writer on short form text reading. Reviews some of the more recent arguments, and tries to set a lower limit on brevity. with "The same people who clipped back my copious callouts into a few marketing bubbles would have also pruned this post from 2,000 words to 200. Would that make the text more valuable? Just as there’s a balance between simplicity and obscurity, there’s a balance between length and learning. More people might read a short text, but a longer text yields more learning. Is there no pleasure in learning anymore?" Tends to skip over the Clive Thompson notion that he mentions: "The torrent of short-form thinking is actually a catalyst for more long-form meditation." – (techwriting reading shortform brevity )

bookmarks for January 21st, 2011 through January 22nd, 2011

bookmarks for December 9th, 2010 through December 10th, 2010

  • Picturing social order – – (visualization )
  • From Indymedia to Wikileaks – OWNI.eu weighs in. “The battle over Wikileaks, and the journalistic questions that it raises, are genuinely new developments — but they’re new developments grounded in a few long term trends and a history stretching back nearly two decades.The impact of WikiLeaks on journalism is more an impact of degree than of kind; what’s happening isn’t entirely new, but it is happening on a greater scale than ever before. – (wikileaks journalism newjournalism )
  • Twelve Theses on Wikileaks (with Patrice Riemens – [via if:books]. 12 entry points to the WikiLeaks discussion. From Amsterdam, it reads like an internal Pentagon report. “We do not think that taking a stand for or against WikiLeaks is what matters most. WikiLeaks is here to stay, until it either scuttles itself or is destroyed by opposing forces. Our point is rather to (try to) assess and ascertain what WikiLeaks can, could — and maybe even should — do, and to help formulate how “we” could relate to and interact with WikiLeaks.” – (wikileaks anarchy fyw a&e newjournalism citizen_journalism )
  • 500 Internal Server Error – 500 Internal Server Error – (none)