Tuesday (3 May, 2011) saw the launch of the Kingston School of Writing, at the RSA in London. I was kindly invited, via former New Statesman colleague (now professor of journalism at Kingston University) Brian Cathcart, to join a short panel discussion on the future of writing and what students ought to be taught. I was asked to consider the digital aspects of this question. Due to time the discussion focused quite heavily on creative writing, so I thought it might be useful to post here the notes I made before the event:
A few things that interest me in this area from a digital perspective across all types of writing and storytelling. They can probably be split into what is still important, what is now possible/new and what students should be aware of. A few examples:
What’s still important
- Narrative and the ability to construct stories well – both linear and non-linear. As stories such as the Wikileaks US Afghanistan / Iraq papers show, data alone does not a story make
- Understanding narrative arcs and meta narratives and the role they still play – as the wedding showed clearly at the weekend
- Headline writing, and summarising concisely and accurately – Twitter and search engines make this an absolutely vital skill
- Sources and verification – in a world where anyone can quickly check information, showing and having clear (verified where possible) sources is going to become more and more important to maintain trust.
- The ability to connect media, create cross media experiences and take the reader on a journey, if they wish to follow – from the Archers on Twitter onwards
- The numbers of possible outlets and possibilities
- That the reader is now a participant and contributor to the story – even for printed books, where fan fiction keeps rising
What do students need to be aware of or have
- The ability and willingness to experiment and not worry if they fail
- User experiences and how to construct stories across media
- If journalists – data
- Business, networking and marketing skills
- The breadth of possible work beyond the traditional jobs – writing for games, copywriting, PR, possibilities with mobile devices
For those interested this article by Jay Rosen ‘What I think I know about journalism‘ is well worth a read. And the following are related older posts of mine:
A modern journalists job description
So you want a job in journalism?
Steve Bridger and I have launched a new course with Ark Training especially for HR and internal communications professionals looking at how social media is affecting their work and that of organisations.
An HR Guide to Social Media
29 July, 2010
The impact of social media and external relations is never far away from the news but how is it affecting internal communications and human resources? From the banal question of “Should I friend my boss on Facebook?” to bigger issues, such as the line between personal and professional communications and how to write a staff social media policy?
Both employers and employees need to be aware that the bar has moved.
The aim of this course is to help organisations understand this new landscape, the new challenges it brings and examine ways of understanding internal culture so that appropriate tactics and strategies can be implemented.