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Mother of two, living life in small-town South Africa

Journ students start blogging

When someone asked me recently how one could possibly teach sub-editing, I got all sweaty and nervous. But then I reminded myself it is a skill. There’s a lot you can learn about grammar, headline writing, the editing process. But in many ways it is much more abstract than the simple nuts and bolts. What subbing is, really, is engaging with the world in an entirely different way. It’s about developing a critical mind – and eye – and caring about the little things. As Jeff Baron wrote on washingtonpost.com recently:

Copy editors might be the only people who can discuss, cheerfully and seriously and on their own time, when to hyphenate a compound adjective. Normal people, I have found, deeply do not care.

Sub-editors are not normal people.

So reading, writing (and thinking about writing) is a crucial component of the sub-editing course I am teaching to fourth-year Journalism and Media Studies students at Rhodes University. And, really, I’m discovering that the best way to encourage this is by blogging.

Last week, the students set up their blogs, which they will run for the duration of the course. I’ve aggregated them all under one banner (I heart WordPress!), including each of the student’s contributions as RSS feeds. Have a look at the classblog and let me know what you think.

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Filed under: Blogging, Newspapers, ,

Cashing in on news as social currency

Jack Shafer weighs in on Slate on the terminal state of newspapers by arguing that newspapers are dying because they are no longer the best providers of social currency.
Social currency, he explains, is the phrase used to “describe the information we acquire and then trade—or give away—to start, maintain, and nurture relationships with our fellow humans”.
Newspapers have traditionally been a source of social currency, an excellent source of “socially lubricating conversation”.
But, as Shafer points out, newspapers are being upstaged and usurped by other media in the social currency game. “What is Facebook but the Federal Reserve Bank of social currency?”
It’s an interesting take and another reminder that “the decline of newspapers has nothing to do with journalism and everything to do with the changing world”.

PS: And while you’re there, don’t miss Shafer’s response to a rant against bloggers. This spat happened way back in 2005… Has anything changed since then?

Filed under: General, , , , , , ,

Hail! The bloggers of Burma

Fascinating insight into what bloggers risked to bring news and images to the world of Burma’s Saffron Revolution: ‘Bloggers who risked all to reveal the junta’s brutal crackdown in Burma’

This is cyberactivism at its best – and most dangerous. The Bloggers of Burma are living in fear, but managed to transmit some of the most powerful images and information about the revolution before the government responded by switching off all access to the Internet.

As the Times article ends off: “… if there is ever a monument to the heroes of the Saffron Revolution it should certainly feature a statue of a skinny boy in a T-shirt and thick glasses hunched over a computer and a digital camera”.

Filed under: Blogging, , ,

Burma: raining tears

Burmese monk

It was Archibishop Desmond Tutu, of course, who brought what’s happening in Burma a little closer to my consciousness when he likened what’s been happening in Burma to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

“It is so like the rolling mass action that eventually toppled apartheid,” he said. “We admire our brave sisters and brothers in Burma/Myanmar and want them to know that we support their peaceful protests to end a vicious rule of oppression and injustice … Victory is assured. They are on the winning side, the side of freedom, justice and democracy.”

He’s said this all before, of course. But perhaps I wasn’t paying attention. Or, perhaps, it wasn’t accompanied by images like this one. This beautiful photograph is from a Guardian slideshow, and was posted by Sokari on BlackLooks. And then there’s the point, raised by Caitlin Fitzsimmons on OrganGrinder, that what makes this year’s protests different from all that has gone before is “the advent of the internet and video-capable mobile phones means that the eyes of the world are on Burma more than ever before”. Check out what’s been coming through the blogosphere.

As Fitzsimmons says: “The flow of communications to the outside world can only benefit the citizens of Burma and the brave individuals who are risking life and limb to highlight the plight of their country deserve nothing but admiration. It’s no easy job, but technology has made it a whole lot easier than it was in 1988.”

Filed under: Blogging, General, Photography, , ,

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