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RAW spells blog in RHET

Tue. Oct. 27, 2020

Sometimes good things come out of bad situations. And so it was with “RAW Communications,” a new blog in the Department of Rhetoric, Writing, and Communications that’s publishing work of RHET students and alumni. The idea for the blog originated in June, back when we were still early in the stages of adjusting to life in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. It came about during a meeting of the editorial team for “Rooted in Rhetoric,” says Dr. Andrew McGillivray, Assistant Professor in the Department and a faculty editor. “Rooted in Rhetoric” is a journal that is published annually in the fall and made up of student’s writing pieces from the previous year. McGillivray says that everyone on the team liked the idea of having something that was more immediate, something that would have a more rapid turn-around. He’s not exactly sure who suggested the idea of a blog, but it’s one everyone immediately agreed to. The feeling was that “this is something that we should do,” he enthuses.

RAW Communications logoThe graphic for "RAW Communications" was designed by Rhetoric student, Alina Moore.

“RAW Communications” is a blog roll with a new piece posted every couple of weeks. The name is a nod to the department as “RAW” is an acronym for “rhetoric and writing.” But the word “raw,” says McGillivray, also captures the essence of the new publication. In the journal “Rooted in Rhetoric,” the writing pieces are carefully edited, whereas in the blog the writing is “raw.” This allows the writers to get immediate feedback on their work. It also means that the content can speak directly to the issues that are topical in the news and in our lives.

According to Dr. Jaqueline McLeod Rogers, Professor and Chair of the Department and faculty editor, “RAW Communications” and “Rooted in Rhetoric” are important as they enable students to begin publishing early in their careers. Students go through the experience of publishing their work, including details such as signing consent forms for copyright. McLeod Rogers adds that, in addition to the experience of publishing, students now have published work that they can include on their CVs.

The blog has had another important function. It “kept us connected over the summer” and “gave us a sense of community,” says Dr. McGillivray. I think we can all agree, that in a time when we aren’t able to gather and are literally measuring our distance from one another, having something that helps provide that sense of connectedness and community is invaluable.

Here the three faculty editors for RAW Communications, Dr. McGillivray, Dr. McLeod Rogers, and Dr. Helen Lepp Friesen, Instructor in the Department, each tell us a little about one of the recent blog posts on RAW Communications. Make sure you head to the blog to read these in full – and the other entries you’ll find posted there!

“The Bildungsroman and Robert Thomas Byrnes,” by Marina Koslock

Dr. McLeod Rogers - Marina Koslock reached out when the news of the passing of Prof Robert ("'Bob") Byrnes was announced and wanted to know what to do by way of tribute. Placing her commemorative essay on the RAW blog seemed fitting, because her piece expressed feelings of shock and loss so many in our community felt. Her words create images of Bob so many of us remember.

“Reshaping Our Narratives During a Global Pandemic,” by Cassidy Rempel

Dr. Andrew McGillivray - Cassidy Rempel contributed a timely essay to the RAW blog that articulates how the pandemic continues to profoundly influence our individual and collective narratives. Among her insights, Cassidy emphasizes that we cannot let external voices which emphasize competition overtake the more productive opportunities we have to cooperate during these unprecedented times. Her post reminds us we have the chance now to re-consider what gives each of us meaning in our own lives, in our family relationships, and in our friendships.

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Understanding Pro-State Media Biases in Minneapolis Riot Reporting,” by Lily O’Donnell

Dr. Helen Lepp Friesen - In The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Understanding Pro-State Media Biases in Minneapolis Riot Reporting, Lily O’Donnell, whose home in Minneapolis/St. Paul is only 5 miles from where George Floyd was shot, writes about how the mainstream media failed to capture an unbiased picture of what was going on during the riots, burning, and looting that ensued after the killing. O’Donnell challenges readers to educate themselves on alternative media sources like “local newspapers, local and public radio, social media livestreams and independent news media sources” that “worked to do all the real reporting the main media outlets try to skew.”