The importance of blogging

I’ve never written about the power of blogging. It has certainly been important in my career. It contributed to having my newspaper written about in The New York Times and featured as Editor & Publisher’s annual “10 That Do It Right.” 

It was only natural that I would require the 36 students in my “Current Issues in Mass Media” class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill blog for the class. Most of the students were in the journalism and mass communication school. Many majored in journalism or advertising or public relations. And most of them drew back with alarm when I told them I expected them to blog about mass comm issues three times a week. That was a minimum, which would get them a C.

I wanted them to learn to think and write in public. They need that skill. They could learn from each other’s  blogs because I curated their posts on this RebelMouse site. The idea was that they would read each other’s reflections on mass communication and engage with someone other than me. Best of all, by forcing them to search out topics worth writing about, they were keeping up with trends in mass communication.

I wanted them to find their voice.

My advice was simple: I told them the same thing Ed Cone told me when I started blogging 10 years ago — “Have a take and don’t suck.”

Four students dropped the class. Some of the others didn’t like it. But they all did and, and they got better each week. At the end of the semester, I asked them to write about the most significant thing they learned in the class. I was impressed — blown away, really — with their conclusions. Read a bit here and follow the ones that interest you.

Here are some excerpts about their blogging experience.

Ford Springer: I’ll admit, sometimes it was a pain to crank out even the minimum three blog posts a week, but it led me to discover and learn about things I otherwise might not have paid attention to.  Many times these discoveries came not from endless Google searches, but by reading the blog posts of my classmates.  Take a scroll through through our Rebel Mouse site, and you’ll find that this class is full of people who are pretty damn smart.

Jourdan BlackThough I typically sighed at the thought of 3-4 blogs a week, I enjoyed the idea of searching for topics about which to blog. What I came to find out was that the easiest posts that came to me were ones in which I was passionate. Ones that I could take a side on and defend my opinion. 

Kristin Shotwell: Blogging has taught me a lot about myself. This semester even gave me the opportunity to solve my own Public Relations crisis, one that wouldn’t have been confronted had I not had the power to publish. After being encouraged time and time again by the Journalism school to “start a blog to put on your resume for the future,” I was always nervous about entering this uncharted blogging world. But, Professor Robinson made us do it. As students, we need that push these days. There are so many things that we “should do” to better ourselves but there is just not enough time in the day to do all of it to the best of our ability. 

Nicole Goldfarb: The most important thing I learned from this class though was that having an online presence is an essential thing to have. I never realized how much can happen from an online blog and how important they are to have, especially for us college students looking for internships and jobs. It is extremely helpful to have something published online that you can easily show to future employers, to give them a sample of your work. Putting your name out there gives you a chance to be noticed. No one ever knows who’s the next person to go viral, so why not try and get yourself in the game?

Although it was a lot of work, I enjoyed every minute of it! I liked researching things in mass media and I liked having to write for an audience, instead of for a professor. I’ve never gotten a chance to really write about what I want to write about in a class. Throughout all my years of school, papers with a predetermined topic have been assigned to me and I’ve never gotten to write in a casual, fun way about something I like. 

Tara O’Connor: Before I began writing blog posts, I held wishy-washy opinions about a lot of things. I have always found it hard to steadfastly pick one side in any argument because I like to examine all aspects of a situation and try to understand things from many perspectives. While Robinson’s class allowed me to think about all sides of a situation, writing a blog made me more inclined to articulate my ideas realize that I actually did hold many sound and strong opinions on topics. I want to keep blogging and questioning the world around me well beyond the end of this semester.

Rachel Gogal: Blogging is a great way to form an opinion and voice your opinion.  At times I was often unsure how to tackle controversial articles I had read and wanted to talk about.  However, blogging enabled me to create my own discussion and communicate my own thoughts and ideas.  Although I was 10 times more vulnerable on the internet every time I posted, I was free to write whatever I wanted.  It was exhilarating!

Nora Fritz: We are also going to play big roles in what realms disruptions take hold of within society. Realizing my own power out of this paradigm is a lesson I am definitely better off for. I think our whole class has taken a good, hard look at the impact we can all make and that is really exciting. If it wasn’t for your encouragement, pushing (at times, nagging), and creativity, this newfound me would not be here writing this blog at all and I think a lot of my classmates would agree on this idea. 

Maggie Glanton: We were required to post at least three times a week with our thoughts on different issues of mass communication (and three posts a week did not mean you received an “A”). We were told this on the first day of the semester and after that statement, I was almost fully convinced that I was going to drop the class… Posting on a blog with my thoughts at least three times a week seemed a little absurd and for most of the semester, I did feel absurd sharing my thoughts about the future of mass communication.Luckily, I decided not to drop the class….