Eileen Jones, who heads the PR course at Huddersfield University, was impressed by recent Behind the Spin articles on Blogging (here, here, here, here). But she says there are dangers in students spending too much time at the keyboard.
Firstly, blogging suffers the same fate as much unedited, web-placed material. Much of it is poorly written and personally opinionated, so that the occasional item of excellence has to be sought with the fervour of a gardener in search of a four-leaved clover.
Secondly, young people coming into university to study PR and journalism appear to have a scepticism of their own. Some are unimpressed by the ego-centricity of some blogs; others see yet another “new media revolution” which they believe will be surpassed or bypassed in a few years’ time.
We may be wrong, very wrong, and we will certainly not sit back and ignore what is happening in the blogosphere. But it is Tony Bradley’s demand “People skills are a must” that engages my attention more.
He says: “I mean being curious about people (the ones you like and the ones you don’t!), what makes them tick, how they respond to communications and how and why they make the decisions they do.”
My experience as a teacher is that young people – bloggers or not – belong to a generation which has lost the ability to engage directly with people. They can compose a text message (under the desk, during a lecture, without looking at the keyboard,) but they are afraid to make a phone call to someone they don’t know.