Each week, Evan Peterson rounds up stories from across the Web that scribes of all stripes should check out.
Bad news: Public relations still takes work. Good news: Its value depends on something familiar.
We look at who invented writing, why writers use maps in stories, and whether we're in the golden age of journalism.
PR is about writing:
You've developed Facebook and Twitter strategies, built a funny Tumblr, shot and edited video, even produced a few GIFs. But can you write?
That's what public relations is still about, according to PR consultant Robert Wynne, who asserts that just because you might know the latest tricks doesn't mean you can convince anyone of anything. You've got to be able to write.
"If you can write press releases, pitch letters, and editorials well, and you possess the barest of people skills, you will never go hungry," he writes in Forbes.
Who Invented writing?:
It seems like something that's always just been there, like air or time, but writing was invented at some point by someone.
Learning the history proves a bit difficult, given that for millennia we have traced history primarily through writing. The ability to study history occurred along with that invention, which started with the Sumerians—or maybe the Chinese. In any case, you'll have to watch a video to find out.
Writers like maps:
Throughout literary history, maps have proven crucial companions to writing (see: Narnia, Middle Earth, Westeros, and the Hundred Acre Wood).
In The New Yorker
, Casey Cep writes, "Every map tells a story, and writers yearning for new ways to tell stories are drawn to them." There are a great many examples in literature, but online writers lean heavily on images these days, and that increasingly means maps
Mapping tools featuring traffic, weather, and location data have become essentials for bloggers. No need for a professional cartographer. Maps are fun to write about
Should USC's MPW program be saved?:
You'll find plenty of disagreement among writers on the value of a master’s degree in writing. The University of Southern California has made up its mind. It’s shutting down its Masters in Professional Writing program in 2016.
Without steady financial support
, writing programs have a hard time proving their merit. But USC’s—whose faculty includes writers for The New Yorker
, Los Angeles Times
and, before his death, screenwriter Syd Field—can't be all bad.
[RELATED: Get advanced writing and editing tips from Mark Ragan and Jim Ylisela; choose from 4 cities!]
The golden age of journalism?:
There's been a resurgence in good journalism, due in large part to the Internet.
As Tom Engelhardt observes, "In terms of journalism, of expression, of voice, of fine reporting and superb writing, of a range of news, thoughts, views, perspectives and opinions about places, worlds and phenomena that I wouldn’t otherwise have known about, there has never been an experimental moment like this."
Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.