Moving along…

I had another week of heavy reading and taking notes for my lit review. Some nights I also worked on my actual novel. I didn’t do much of new writing but I did revise a good amount of the draft I have. I rearranged the order in which some events are happening in the novel. I also revised some of the dialogue in the novel where I felt needed improvement. I am working on a loose outline so that I can have a map of where my novel will be going.
As for the readings for my lit review, I’ve really enjoyed the readings so far because I was able to find studies that talked about divorce effects on children of all ages. I found some studies that focused on younger children, like preschoolers, while other focused on teenagers and young adults. I think this is so far very helpful because the characters in my novel get older as the story progresses.
There were a couple of nights this week where I didn’t work on my project as much as I would’ve liked but I think that I was still able to get enough work done so that I wouldn’t feel like I needed to panic. I’m not sure if it’s safe to say that this was okay since we are still early in the process. I feel like there is a lot to still do but hopefully working on my novel along with the lit review will work out well. I feel like I have to take advantage of the moments where I feel inspired because I never know when there will be nights where I won’t be able to work on my project.

There is still much more to do but one of the things I need to do within the next week is find existing YA novels that talk about divorce effects on children and young adults. While I’ve read some stories that touch upon that, I feel like I need to do more research on this. 

Conflicting Ideas in Writing

     After writing for a while, I've come to realize that what hinders my writing process and the progression of the story is that I tend to diverge from the present writing. I push myself off the present project when ideas hit me when I am writing the current story. And I find myself focusing on writing the idea and about the idea which has just struck me. Instead of finishing the thought or story on which I am currently working.
     I ended up using a technique which I previously developed through my writing. Not only do I take the post-its and write ideas or thoughts about identity or the current story or them. But now I have taken to writing the ideas that jump out of me on them too. When I do this process; it allows me to jot down the come to mind ideas without disturbing the present writing. And I place the post-its on my wall of writing and come back to them later when I need further inspiration or information for my current writing project.
     Afterwards, I've found that the information I wrote down through the days, weeks, and moments have given rise to a plethora of great ideas or scenes which I can use in the current writing project. I just have to format them to the current idea. It takes a bit of editing. I take out what has nothing to do with the current idea. But I don't throw anything away. I simply put it aside because it may be useful or needed in another way or for later inspiration and rewritten to work or fit in the current story. 
     Amazingly, I've found myself developing strategies to facilitate my writing and story ideas like I never thought possible. It's because now I've started to realize what I want to do and what I should not do in order to keep myself on track. Therefore, I've developed techniques to keep those bad habits in check and improve my idea construction and story progression.   

Writing Process

     Lately, I've found myself struggling with my writing process. I've found that I spend more time fixing and correcting errors in the writing than I do writing itself. I guess spending time making sure everything reads well is important. But at times I feel I am losing the story itself in the technical process. I've been trying to identify the other aspects of identity which can make my story more appealing and working on building forward the idea instead of just doing grammatical fixes.
     But as time goes on; I find that more and more I feel detached from the very idea I'm trying to explore. I've had to take a step back these past few days and take a look at what I'm trying to do in order to develop a well written story and express the theme of identity without losing reality and creativity in the story; so that the story does not become stagnant.
     I have actually taken to setting up a wall in my room with plot ideas, character design, and story twists to keep myself on track with what I want to do with my work. I've also taken to writing out on paper with pencil instead of on computer. I've found that using a pencil and paper allows my mind to free itself more for writing then with a computer. I don't know. The feel of the pencil and writing on paper just makes the process comfortable and easier for me.
     I now find my self jotting down notes for the story on post-its and pieces of paper on my free time. On these notes I write ways to better the story and place more emphasis on the idea of identity for my character(s) and the book itself.

Thesis Progress Post 1 (9/29)

My task for this week was to begin thinking about how to frame the subject of 21st century journalism with an eye towards possibly formulating a new language and thinking about different themes I could use for classes in the college course I'm putting together.  Some of my initial thoughts are as follows: as a professional, i am worried that the critical thinking and judgment used in putting together the old school news is lost when citizen journalists diisseminate news - in fact, it is in many ways fundamentally different from old school news. the context is often lost - old school news attempts to give you a fleshed out snapshot of what occured - what, when, where, why, how - relying on added content - spoken or otherwise to provide context.  CJ is often provided without context - and is provided with haste as foremost concern - the desire to provide people with a realtime experience being the top priority (it reflects out current culture where much of what we do is predicated on fast content or an experience can be provided) i will say that i believe the quality of the content still matters - the way something is shot, the esthetic, but it is less of a concern than the immediacy to those trying to get it out to the masses.  that said, as this morning's video of the train crash in Hoboken proves, often times the pictures themselves tell a good portion of the story.  I thought also about the fact that many old-school journalists have to consider the risk of putting out bad or misleading information.  Their jobs, livlihoods and reputations are at stake.  But mass narrators (a term im playing with as a description of citizen journalists on digital media) don't have the same kinds of concerns.  They often have anonymity and face no consequences if the information they put out is false or misleading.  Because of that, there is concern that their personal agendas are what is driving their decision-making, as opposed to the good of the masses they are trying to communicate with.  I believe an example of that is the Arab Spring when people used social media to spur protests and then others used social media to instill doubt about the rebel leaders, spread dissention and ultimately help put the military in power. 

Quote from the guardian

"(what we are witnessing is) changing the landscape of documentary filmmaking. This has been made possible by the technology they use, the distribution platforms that are now available and the passion of ordinary men and women to tell the kinds of extraordinary stories that were once the domain of professional documentary makers.

Factual filmmaking has in some senses become hostage to these new, "immediate" technologies. But many working in the genre praise the developments for adding a richer dimension to current affairs and factual documentaries and everyone seems to agree that the genre will never be the same again."

So in terms of language, we are looking at two different things:

traditional journalism - key is context

What if i called citizen journalism a kind of synchronicitous narration or synchro-narration???   although it can be argued that there is a causal link - the event causes the maybe this doesnt work) Synchronicity is the occurrence of two or more events that appear to be meaningfully related but not causally related.  Narration is telling a story as it happens. So this definition is meant to reflect the telling of a story while that story is going on, with the two events being related although not casually (meaning one does not cause the other to occur)

Perhaps "mass narrative" -  A narrative or story is any report of connected events, actual or imaginary, presented in a sequence of written or spoken words, or still or moving images.

A mass narrative (in my thinking) would be characterized by the characterization of what would typically be thought of as a news or current event but presented through the lens of social or mass digital media and not through the more narrow, filtered lens of the traditional media. A mass narrative can be the cause or the effect of current events - sometimes playing both sides of the same story (Black Lives Matter, flash mobs, etc)

We should be careful to point out that these mass narratives are not always organic and can be hijacked by corporate or political power structures (i.e. Obama email lists / social media outreach ahead of the 2008 election).  This raises the question of how, without traditional power brokers, the phenomenon of the mass narrative can remain an entity that can retain at least the quality of relative independence (the web allowing everyone to express themselves equally).

That said, digital media has its own way of policing itself and prevents certain themes or memes of grabbing hold. For instance. public shaming is a form of self-policing (that is also at risk of being grabbed by power brokers - i think of the way people were shamed who used water on their california lawns while the rest of the state was under a drought emergency a few years back).  But other people who use certain types of language that is considered hateful or prejudice can be "shamed" right out of the public sphere - stores that wouldn't serve cakes to gay wedding couples for example were publicly shamed - a store that used mattresses in the shape of the twin towers to mark 9/11 was so publicly shamed that it had to close its doors.  This wasnt just an example of mass narration - there was no story really until the masses made it into one.  The event wasn't purely manufactured, but the media buzz surrounding it was generated purely online without the help of the mainstream or traditional media (can we call it "manufactured media?")

In some ways, mass narration and citizen journalism has its roots in what they called "stringers" - funny that now they are saying news organizations are employing these kinds of people for the first time.  Not true.  People have been listening to police scanners, running to fires with the cameras, taking pictures and selling them to newspapers and tv stations for decades.

(here is a story from nypost that makes it sound otherwise)

But technology has given us far more immediate access to imagery of events as they happen.  Everyone has a camera. Here are examples of civilians taking famous news pics (janis krum  Even back in the 70's, it was a student photographer John Filo who captured the picture of the girl standing over the body of a student shot at Kent State.

Next up, I'm going to look more closely at university journalism programs

College factual rates journalism colleges this way:

  #1 Emerson College. Boston, Massachusetts. ...

  #2 The University of Texas at Austin. Austin, Texas. ...

  #3 Northwestern University. Evanston, Illinois. ...

  #4 New York University. ...

  #5 University of Southern California

Emersonhas courses that touch on the growing field of digital media and its impact on journalism but its as much about getting the students to participate in that world than it is about understanding its impact. JR103 Digital Journalism - "Examines modern web practices...students learn how to use videography, audio to tell stories."  JR220 Interactive News - "students analyze best practices of online news publications and write their own blogs...(also) design a multimedia website."  JR485 includes a topic on blogging, conceiving and writing blogs along with legal and ethical issues.  But all of this seems to be a little behind the times.  I find it hard to believe college students don't know how to blog or maintain a digital/online presence and personality.  My sense is that these courses would need to be advanced to the point where you are taking into account the tools that students already know how to use and structure it to use =those= tools in any journalistic exercises. Also, ethical and legal issues are mention in looking at blogging, but what about other digital media elements? And there seems to be no indication that any of these courses are rethinking journalism itself - just talking about digital media as an element of the medium as opposed to reconsidering how digital media is transforming the way we think about, create and consume the news.

Interesting course at the University of Texas titled Social Media Journalism

But it sounds like they are still treating social media as an aspect, almost a featury element of a newsroom (it says "Students will use various channels to become highly skilled, engaged social media journalists who could step into any social media role in a newsroom).  But it does mention that students will "learn how to cover breaking news using social media and crowdsourcing" which could be informative for this thesis....

Also a fascinating Univ. of Texas story - Explanatory Journalism: Storytelling in a Digital Age. It says it does not explore new digital tools but tries to make best use of "our collective toolkit" to use the best tools to tell stories. A lot of it is about reporting, although they include one class late in the semester  titled "Virtual Reality: The "New New" Thing and mentions that The School of Journalism is working with Computer Science and the Washington Post to develop cutting-edge storytelling using virtual reality. Wow.  I haven't heard of that at all.  Something interesting to look into.

That's all for now.

Please forgive the choppy way this is written.  If I need to do a better job of smoothing it out, please let me know.  This is just the way I think :)