Catching up, I see this report on the Washington Post now outfitting correspondents with video cameras to feed the web not just with words but with action.
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Prof. Susan Crawford wonders whether blogging is a professorial endeavor — that is, whether it should count for the final exam of the teaching set: tenure. In an interview with fellow profs, she said:
I took a “law professors are people too” approach to the questions we were asked. I see scholarship and blogging as separate endeavors, and I enjoy getting the chance to speak here without footnotes. I feel as if I’m part of an enormous collaborative and creative endeavor online. I don’t expect for a moment that my colleagues will consider my posts when I’m up for tenure.
Ah, but isn’t the link the new and improved footnote? Doesn’t Technorati provide a new and open form of peer review? And isn’t it wonderful to get a professorial perspective in a timely manner? I was grateful the other day when I could go to Prof. Jack Balkin’s blog soon after the Supreme Court’s whistlestopping decision and get his learned analysis.
No — surprise — I am not suggesting that blogging should replace traditional scholarship and publishing; there is, of course, a need for research, consideration, review, and publishing (digitally, too!). But I’ll argue here — as I do in the discussion about books and in the discussion about journalists blogging — that we are better off with both. Now that the internet gives us this new opportunity to talk with and listen to the public from our perches, why wouldn’t we grab it?
If professors blog as professors, they bring their scholarship and perspective to a larger world. That is good for their scholarship — conversation yields learning as people question and challenge and add to what you say — and, presumably, it is good for the world if they contribute knowledge and perspective to the public discussion. Professors need to come down from the tower and peek through the ivy; they need to return to the public square, just as my blogging friend and teacher Prof. Jay Rosen says that journalists should end the separation they put between themselves and the public they serve. In fact, I will argue that when the restructuring that is coming to every other profession thanks to the internet inevitably comes to the academe — when people will find the learning they want in more places and the role of universities and their faculties goes through upheaval just like the role of journalists and newspapers — then the academics and the institutions that are open to the world will be in a better position to survive and prosper and matter. So MIT is right to put its curriculum online. And professors are right to blog.
I’ve been thinking about this not only in the context of journalists who blog but academics who blog because I’ll soon be — or will attempt to be — both, when I start teaching at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism in September. My own blog will continue to be me — that is, a mix of blatherings about media and journalism but also rants about Dell and personal notes about 9/11 and Howard Stern moments like the post directly below. Think of it as my end of a college cocktail party: some collegial debate about professional topics and some personal chatter, the more of the latter the later the night gets. I would not require students to read my blog (though I suppose that’s not much different from making them buy your own book for a class). But I will be aware that they may see what I say here and if they do, I hope they challenge me on it. I’ll also be aware that fellow faculty may read it and may have cause to argue with it. I’d relish that, and I’d bet the students would … if that were a discussion via links among mutual blogs.
So, yes, I think that journalists should blog because it is good for them to open the process of journalism, to meet and respond to the public they serve, and to invite that public into that process to improve it.
And I think that professors should blog — should take advantage of this new form of publication, that is, if it’s appropriate to their specialties and styles — because they should be generous with their knowledge and they would benefit from the conversation and because their institutions would benefit from building a new relationship with the public. So, yes, I think that blogging can and should count toward tenure, if universities are smart.
And I say that not just because I despair at finding the time to write one of those old-fashioned things called books.
: LATER: See, too, Ryan Sholin.
Adrian Holovaty, the most creative and the most creatively productive guy we still have in the news biz in this country, gives the commencement speech at his j-school alma mater:
…But, most of all, the foundation is important because you need to understand the rules before you can break them. And now, more than ever, this industry needs to break some rules….
Graduates, the fire should be burning under each and every one of you. You should be yearning — aching — to bring this industry into a new age. Your generation — our generation — is going to be the one to do it. You’re going to be the people breaking the rules. You’re going to be the people inventing new ones….
So witness the power of the humble tools of citizens’ media. A citizen dentist used them to become a journalist. He used them to give the world a unique and human perspective on a story where too much is unreported. He gained an appreciative and supportive audience around the world. He helped give birth to a new medium. And journalism is all the better for it.
(Nonregistration version here.)
We all need to help Zeyad, the pioneering Iraqi blogger and journalist, come to America, where he will attend CUNY’s new Graduate School of Journalism. To get his student visa, he must show support for the year and a half that he will be here and that means raising at least $45,000. We are reaching out to foundations and individuals and working on scholarships and Zeyad is working to raise money. But that won’t do it all. We will. All of you inspired Zeyad to blog and give his invaluable perspective on Iraq. That inspired him to give up his career as a dentist and report for his blog as well as for NYTimes.com, the Washington Post, and the Guardian. So now I hope we will all show what the blogosphere can do and raise the funds one of our own needs to come to America to study. You have two means to give.
On Zeyad’s site, click on the CONTRIBUTE button and give a donation directly to him via PayPal or credit card.
Or you can give a tax-deductible contribution to CUNY earmarked for Zeyad’s scholarship. Send your check made out to “Cuny Graduate School of Journalism” to:
Dean Steve Shepard
CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
535 E. 80th St.
New York, NY 10021
Make sure to note that this is for the “Zeyad Scholarship.”
And please spread the word on all your blogs. Zeyad is one of us and we help our own.
Over the years, many of you kind souls have offered to contribute to a tip jar on my site. Do this instead, please.
Zeyad writes about coming to New York and the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.
I have been reluctant to change careers, but quite frankly there is nothing that I can add to dentistry in Iraq, whereas the field of Iraqi online and print journalism is lacking in many aspects, and I hope to contribute to filling that gap. Also, living and studying in New York city is a more like a dream to me that is closer to coming true.
Of course this is not final yet. I need to provide evidence that I have the required funds to pay for tuition and living expenses in order to be granted F-1 immigration status to enter the US. And I am not a wealthy man, as many of you know.
Unfortunately, I have no means yet to solicit donations, so I would appreciate connections to possible foundations or organisations willing to fund this endeavor.
We are trying to figure out a way to accept donations that some of you have already offered. Please hold that thought!
Some big news in the blogging world, revealed today in the Wall Street Journal (free link):
Zeyad, the amazing blogger behind Healing Iraq, a founding father of the Iraqi blogosphere, has been accepted to the City University of New York’s new Graduate School of Journalism (where I’ll be teaching). But we all have to pitch in to help him get there, for one has to have tens of thousands of dollars in the bank before getting a visa to come to the U.S.
Zeyad will have a tip jar up where you can help him directly. But frankly, even with the best work of the entire blogosphere, I doubt we’ll be able to raise all the money he’ll need. So I appreciate any connections to likely funders: foundations, companies, or individuals who want to help build journalism in Iraq and the Mideast.
Zeyad is a born journalist. As soon as he started blogging, I told him he should give up his chosen field, dentistry, and take up reporting. He laughed at the time but now he has been reporting not just for his blog but also for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Guardian (all of whom, I hope, will pitch in assignments to help bring him here!). And he is coming to the j-school in New York.
As the Journal story by Yochi Dreazen reports today, Zeyad has chronicled not only the events in Iraq from outside the Green Zone and from an Iraqi’s perspective, he has also chronicled his own view of the war with an honesty and lack of ideology not present from other sources. Zeyad began his blog elated at the prospects of freedom and today, surrounded by constant violence, his view of those prospects is quite different.
I’m very excited to have watched Zeyad’s birth and growth as an outstanding journalist. I look forward to working with him at CUNY. I’ll be writing about this more but I wanted to let you know about the news immediately.