Why You Should, Talk, Read and Blog

This fall is my first semester teaching college.  I’m an adjunct at New York University where I’m teaching The Business of Media.   The class design focuses on training young people to join media companies.  The grade is comprised of three components class participation, blogging, and a final paper or presentation to a group of media professionals.

These skills, reading, writing, and presenting are vital to your ability to succeed in the workplace.  And everybody from programmers to accountants needs them — even the ability to speak in front of large groups.  Don’t believe me?  Guess who presented Google Wave at their launch?  The product managers who built it.  The smartest thing my son’s kindergarten teacher did was hold a weekly recital where kids stood up in front of all the parents and performed some skill (count to 10, sing the alphabet, play chopsticks) to huge applause.  5 years later all of those kids relish public speaking.

The media world has been changing since I joined it in the early 90s.  The pace of innovation has never slowed.  In fact, it has probably accelerated.  There has been “upheaval, revolution, rebirth, and reinvention” since long before the 20 years that I’ve been in the industry.

And if you don’t read consistently, widely and thoughtfully you will not be able to contribute as much to your organization.  As children’s advertising taught me years ago, Reading is Fundamenal.

Blogging forces you to write about what you read.  Through this process you articulate your ideas into structured thoughts.  These thoughts may or may not contribute to the organization, but I genuinely believe that the process of steady reading and writing is a discipline that will serve you, your colleagues, and your career for years to come.

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4 Responses

  1. I had a biology teacher in high-school that was a great inspiration to me. The third most-used answer he would give to questions asked (next to “You should ask my second in command” while pointing at the sky, and “It’s biology. There is no place for logic here”) was to point to a book or the black-board and say “All you ever need to know, is how to read”.
    Yes he was a cynic, but he was right.

  2. sorry, just came across your blog through tags. the subject you teach is really interesting. i work in publishing and blogs are our life force.

    my question about your blogging assignment is, why blogging and not journaling? is there a specific reason why you think they will get more out of writing on the computer? what if a student is more creative outside with a notebook and would have come up with a revolutionary idea in the park but instead, he was stuck behind a screen?

    ok, sorry, didnt mean to butt in… great topic.

  3. @gabistan1234 – I’ll give you my response to your question: while journaling is great (and I didn’t interpret Aaron’s post as a suggestion that it should be ignored) I would recommend blogging instead as:
    1. its public and collaborative (via comments) nature more closely resembles the collaborative process within the corporate environment and requires bloggers to build defensible positions, polished reasoning skills and thick skins.
    2. blogging creates a “resume of thought” that will help secure these students jobs. when i was just starting out i never would have expected an employer to look beyond my resume, interviews and a couple of references. now, it is routine and, at least in certain industries, the absence of a body of work online is shifting from normal to slightly suspect. in some ways digital media has become analogous to academia: publish or perish.
    3. i’m all for sitting in a park w/ a notebook and i encourage these kids to try it sometime. but most days, when they’re sitting in Wash Sq Park, hooked into NYU’s WiFi, they’ll be able to jot down their revolutionary ideas on iPhones, netbooks, or laptops and either revise them later for posting or add to them to their blogs in real-time…and they may even decide to add a video or a couple of photos…

    • @paul – good points! i definitely didnt mean my question contentiously. i thought it was an interesting topic and just threw my first thought out there. having the students blog for this class makes absolute sense. this made me think of a project for students – breaking into groups and creating a site where everyone collaborates in some form or another – they could take on editorial roles, etc. – kind of like a huff post model (or any online media for that matter. ie. slate, cs monitor, salon… ) definitely a fascinating class.

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