Prepping for Week 2 – Definitions, Descriptions, Means of Connection

Over the weekend, think about the question: is there a difference between writing publicly and writing for the public (or for a particular public or for multiple publics)? Of course, my asking suggests that I think there might be. But, really, I ask this because I suspect there’s enough diversity and ambiguity inherent in our intuitive definitions of “public writing” to start a useful conversation.

This week’s blog post(s) should:

[1] Offer some observations that help bring together the disparate examples of “writing for the public” that your classmates shared. Try to be specific rather than general in your observations. I encourage you to explore—in some detail—one example (or two) that excited or surprised you; and/or to explore a specific example in relation to your own outside knowledge.

You might use one of the following questions as a starting place: Did any of the examples change or challenge ideas you had about the scope of this course? About what “counts” as writing for the public? Were there formal features that many of the examples had in common? Which examples were most memorable in terms of form? In terms of content? Were there any examples that you found upsetting in a way that made you want to take action? Many people mentioned “getting the word out” as a goal of public writing—what does that mean to you? Is raising awareness always a good thing? Is it ever/always enough? Did the context in which you encountered these articles (in our class, given your peers’ introductions) cause you to react differently than you might have if you had encountered the samples elsewhere? 

[2] Begin or conclude with: a concise, specific phrase that describes one thing “writing for the public” does (or could do, or should do). Include an interesting verb. Consider this part of a communally constructed working definition.

[3] Be composed in response to some preliminary thinking about what makes a “good” blog post. Think about what visual cues make online text more readable—consider using catchy/descriptive headers or subheaders and breaking big blocks of text into several small paragraphs.

Think about what makes readers likely to engage—to read all the way through and then (perhaps) comment. Talk about your peers’ interests in a smart/respectful way. Ask questions that might generate responses. Consider including links or images (either your own images or images that have appropriate Creative Commons licenses, something you may be familiar with/something we’ll talk about later in the semester).

[4] Be posted by 9PM on Sunday (January 12). Take into account the information about blogging that’s included on your syllabus. Proofread and spellcheck (while informal, inquisitive writing is encouraged, carelessness is not). Two comments responding to peers’ posts are due before class begins on Tuesday.

* If you haven’t already done so, please take the time to post a link to/description of your example on the previous post.


48 thoughts on “Prepping for Week 2 – Definitions, Descriptions, Means of Connection

  1. In my own head, “writing publicly” stirs up ideas that it is more of a stream of consciousness rather than a premeditated piece or example of writing that the public will want to see. This type of writing could be readily available to the public eye, such as a personal twitter feed, but may not be intended by the writer for anything more than “venting” of ideas and complaints. With informal connotations, writing publicly may serve as an outlet of opinions while writing for the public is proposed for educational or social purposes. Contrastingly, it may serve to introduce new ideas or put a new spin on existing thoughts and judgments. This “writing for the public” can take many forms, whether it be a destination guide for a city or a novel. As with all things, the line between the two can often be blurred. If it is not the inclusion of the writers’ opinions that divide the two, then what is the deciding differentiation?

    As a class, we all brought in examples that could, in some way, be defined as writing FOR the public.

    Journalistic pieces, tourist guides, multi-media articles, and a stream of tweets seek public attention for different reasons, but all have a purpose in affecting change in the people who read them. The article from New York Times entitled “When Doctors ‘Google’ Their Patients” by Haider Warraich makes an effort to educate readers on the ideas that doctors may know more than we think about their patients. It addresses the topic of public health in an engaging way with relatable writing to increase the scope of information that readers are receiving about their personal care. Using different techniques, Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar sheds light on the stigma of mental health and treatment of those diagnosed in the 1960s. With autobiographical components, the author chose to incorporate her own experiences to strengthen her credibility in this piece intended to teach others about the mentally ill. In a more informal way, the Cute Emergency stream of tweets is writing for the public that invokes happiness and joy in its readers (and viewers!). The short 140 character limited blurbs do not offer opinions or ideas, but rather short phrases and pictures that speak for themselves. The tweets challenge my original definition of what writing for the public is by using Twitter for a publicly beneficial purpose as opposed to private thoughts and complaints. A pattern of effective communication aimed at engaging and informing a broad audience strings these pieces and many of the other class examples together.

    Writing for the public could be generally defined as a thoughtful compilation of words and ideas serving to grab the attention of a wide variety of audiences by employing relatable language or graphics to increase public knowledge. But with the ever-changing outlets writers use to proclaim their ideas, shouldn’t the definition of public writing also always be up for debate?

    • I noticed in this post that the example of the article about doctors googling their patients was used in the same way I used the Elle article Take Back the Night, both exemplified a piece of writing that wished to expose an issue. Both these articles were in my opinion examples of writing FOR the public. The author wanted the public, whomever that may be, to be informed on an issue that not only did they find important but that also affected their lives through public health, or the horrible existence of rape and sexual assault.

  2. Writing for the public insinuates some sort of premeditated task or project undertaken by the author. He or she might have been assigned or might have chosen to write a piece with the intention that a specific public or publics would view it. Many of the examples shared in class fell under this category: the Laurel Highlands destination guide was written specifically for people wishing to visit the area, much like the Commander’s Note was written for the cadets picking up the military magazine.

    Writing publicly insinuates writing that might not have a specific intended audience, and in many cases allows the author to be more free and creative with his or her writing. In my mind, when I think of writing publicly I think about Facebook statuses, streams of tweets, online blogs or journals (not including those written for or about a specific subject), or other things we share on social media. Of course, there are more ways to write publicly than just via social media outlets, but I think sometimes people have the tendency to forget that writing shared on these sites can be viewed by a wide and varied group of publics.

    I think there’s a large overlap between the two; things that might typically be considered writing for the public might also be public writing, and vise versa. Although the two can sometimes overlap, I think in general the two types of writing can be quite different and employ varied techniques.

    As I listened to all of the examples my classmates shared when asked to bring in public writing pieces, I realized just how many things can “count” as public writing. In my opinion, some of the most surprising included Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar and the stream of Cute Emergency tweets. I never considered novels public writing before, but in the sense that The Bell Jar is largely autobiographical, it does have many features that might classify it as writing for the public. I think this is also a piece that could be considered writing publicly, however. Plath’s struggle with mental illness, and her discussion of similar diseases in the 1960s, might have been her method of catharsis: writing publicly about her journey with mental illness might have been more for her own benefit than for the benefit of her readers. Either way, this is a rather strong example of writing that might blur the line between writing for the public and writing publicly.

    The Cute Emergency tweets also surprised me, largely because I consider written tweets public writing. When someone mentioned that the Cute Emergency tweets might be written for big burly men who enjoy looking at cute animals but want to avoid the stigma of doing so when others are around, I realized that the individual behind the account might be writing the tweets not for him or herself, but for a public that wants or needs to feel-good pictures of baby animals.

    Overall, however, I think most of the examples were pieces written for the public: the New York Times article on doctors Googling patients, the Pirates blurb about Clint Hurdle’s donations to the Children’s Institute, and the Elle Magazine piece about Take Back the Night are just a few of the examples shared that aimed to “get the word out” to the public about a specific cause or event. These pieces were written with hopes of catching the eye of the newspaper, magazine, or website readers.

    Writing for the public can be thought of as the act of fusing text, images, and ideas with the aim of capturing the attention of a particular audience (or audiences) in order to increase awareness or knowledge. However, like we discussed in class, there are an almost infinite number of ways to define this concept, and I’m anxious to see how this course challenges or changes what I think of when I hear “writing for the public.”

    • I found myself agreeing with many things said in this post. Starting with while there is overlap between the two phrases, they are not synonymous and cannot be treated as so. The aspects of the two types of writing that differ mentioned in this post I also found to be true. Writing for the public to me, implies a premeditated audience with a specific focus while public writing is less strict. An overall definition is quite hard to pinpoint, and generally I don’t see a need to constrain the concept into a definition. Different interpretations between what it means to write publicly and write for the public will create discussions that may introduce thoughts and opinions we didn’t even know we had.

    • I really advocate your opening definition of what writing for the public is. It strikes me as accurate, and I also used the Commander’s Note as an example in my own comment.

      I didn’t really touch on how things can “count” as public writing, but I’m glad that you did because I found it interesting to read. I hadn’t truly thought about what can and cannot be public writing, because my initial thought was most likely “Isn’t all writing public?”
      Upon reflection, I did realize that there are some similarities between the two, but I don’t know if it would be such a “large” overlap. This kind of gray area makes me wish that someone could just slap a definition on each!

      Additionally, you speak to the explicit audiences that each piece of writing is supposed to be written for. This made me think, what if the author’s do this in order to produce another effect? For instance, the Elle article entitled “Take Back the Night” is said to have been produced for the women that read Elle. This much is absolutely true, but what if it’s being written in order to defy the intended audience? To have people who didn’t traditionally read Elle pick up a copy and take a look at this article? It could be that some authors want uncharacteristic type of audiences to be exposed to their work. Just a thought…

    • Premeditated writing as opposed to spontaneous writing is an interesting qualification that you bring up in making the distinction between writing for the public and writing publicly that I somewhat allude to in my blog post but don’t make as explicit. I think that this idea has a lot of validity and is extremely useful in most cases, but as you indicated there are pieces of writing (like “The Bell Jar”) that seem to be all at once premeditated as well as cathartic or stream of consciousness. However, another issue that seems to arise when using this qualification can be found in the usage of social media. In my own experience, all of my posts on social media outlets are examples of premeditated writing because I am aware that I have an audience and am careful with my words even though they are personal thoughts. Still, I realize this might not be true for everyone. An intriguing question then becomes this: do we hold authors of social media responsible for what they post in the same way that we hold authors who write for the public in a more traditional sense responsible for their ideas?

      • Your question of responsibility is an interesting one, and one that I never even considered before. I think we tend to hold authors of social media to be more responsible for their actions. Sure, traditional authors of books and magazine articles get their fair share of criticism, but how often do we see the public bashing a novelist’s opinion as opposed to a celebrity on Twitter? Take for example Justine Sacco, the former PR exec whose poorly thought-out tweet posted on the way to Africa caused quite the angry “twitterstorm” and her eventual job loss. Check out the story here:
        With this being said, I feel like we hold these writers more responsible because of the range of their writing. While magazine writers and book authors cater to their specific niche audiences who are used to their style and content of writing, “public writers” like Ms. Sacco publish their content for the world to see, and, as we know, once it’s posted, anything goes. One seemingly innocent tweet can be shared over various platforms and criticized by millions.

      • I think your question at the end is very important to consider in today’s society. In my own opinion, we do indeed hold authors of social media posts just as responsible as authors of other types of writing for the public. The main reason for this is the issue of access to these posts and the fact that they are public. Celebrities and significant figures who tweet are often quoted in the news just as if they had given a statement at a press release. We are always told that anything you put on the Internet can be found somehow, so those who make their writing public basically give up their right to privacy for that statement. It’s almost as if we could say, “Anything you tweet can and will be held against you.”

    • I can relate to the author by how you defined “writing for the public” and “writing publicly”, even though I have the same idea about writing for the public with the author, I could not think of what writing publicly means. But the author mentioned facebook statuses, that was the moment that I see the relationship between the two. I do think the distinction between these two ideas is ambiguous because there is no certain definition of what either means, but almost everyone understands it in someway and do it on a regular basis. I was surprised by the examples my classmates brought, which gave me a sense of how wide the range of public writing could be.

  3. Writing for the public conveys a message from the author that seeks to be heard by a large audience of people. Similarly, writing publicly often produces a center focus that the author intended to share with some sort of “public”. The two however are not indistinguishable; the key word that separates the two phrases is “for” The hypothetical “public” that writers write for may include a broader population when an author is writing publicly. It is more common to see a predetermined reader base in articles that may be defined as writing for the public, which consequently affects how the article is written. While writing for the public gives the expression purpose and meaning, writing publicly is simply an action that is occurring regardless of an implied direction.

    I do not mean to discredit writing publicly; the lack of the word “for” does not designate confusion in the piece of writing that is being published. Public writing has a much less narrow depiction of what the audience should understand from the piece. In other words, there is room for interpretation in public writing that may be more constricted when an author is writing for a specific public.

    Public writing can occur whenever someone has an idea, notion, theory, or even a feeling that they wish to express. It has less premeditated thought than when an author sits down and plans out a process for their piece. Going off of instinct this also might imply that public writing can be considered raw, while writing for the public is polished and therefore more artificial.

    The Cute Emergency tweets that were brought into class appeared to me as more of an example of writing publicly. Any audience could have seen and taken away something different from the tweets as they didn’t have a real message. This is not a negative connotation I’m making; it’s solely a distinction between pieces of writing having a calculated outcome and those that don’t. Looking at another piece brought in, the article in Elle magazine titled Take Back the Night is a more powerful example of writing for the public. It attempts to expose an aspect of a woman’s existence that is vulnerable. There is a specific message that the author had in mind while writing it, which makes it an example of writing for the public versus public writing, in my opinion.

    While the two terminologies are not identical, they do share one major component in common: the word public. The word public implies it is open to all people and accessible by all people, in theory. This means that whatever piece of writing is being written, it will raise awareness onto an issue. We can all agree that people read newspaper articles to be informed, and that the information in those articles is more often than not trusted and respected because of the relation with the publisher and reputation. Raising awareness is the core stimulant that public writing, and writing written for the public is rooted in.

    • It is agree that it is definitely important to consider the audience when writing FOR the public. Most writers want to be able to appeal to a broad audience and spread their message rather than aiming towards a niche audience. This can be done using different different media outlets. For example, the Rolling Stone piece used mixed media to make an experience for the readers, and viewers. Putting an article online will broaden the audience to include those who do not receive the publication in print. This could mean reaching more of the people in a target audience and spreading information on certain causes to the masses. Acknowledging that the changing media outlets affects how information travels can help those who are writing for the public to achieve their goals.

    • I agree with this piece as well, for the author explained the distinction between the two terms very well. In my post, I also mentioned something similar. I thought writing for the public holds a certain responsibility while rather writing publicly is something people can do everyday and without really having a plan of the structuring the entire piece of writing and consider the effect of the writing. I think this is similar to whether taking which audience would be reading what one wrote, whether it was written for the public or written publicly.

    • I think your post really hit the nail on the head in terms of the differences between “public writing” and “writing for the public.” The intent and purpose is far more apparent in “writing for the public” than in just simply writing in a public forum. Your use of examples is what really helps your argument come through. The “Take the Night” piece clearly has an intended target audience and a specific response you hope the reader gains from reading that piece. However, the Cute Emergency tweets don’t have that intent that many other examples have. It might be out there to make people happy, but who is it for, why is it out there, what about the tweet is done to elicit that specific response. Lastly, I think your definition of at the beginning is very intriguing. You say, “Writing for the public conveys a message from the author that seeks to be heard by a large audience of people.” Does all writing FOR the public seek to be heard by a large audience? Or would you think that all writing seeks to heard from a specific audience, regardless of its size?

    • I don’t know if I completely agree with the distinction you made in the first paragraph between writing for the public and public writing. I don’t know if you can really say that any type of writing lacks any direction whatsoever. Only crazy people write something without a purpose, even if that purpose is just in the back of his or her head. Your comments about the room left for interpretation makes a little more sense to me, but I don’t know if writing for the public always has to be polished. An interpretation like this could easily exclude any type of social media, and I don’t think you should do this.

  4. Before this class, I have never thought of what writing for the public really means. When I decided to register for this class, I thought the title was something I would be interested in, but it was all under the assumption that writing for the public would involve a lot of speeches. Things public figures would say to the public. Then I realized there are so many different genres of writings that would fall under the category of “writing for the public”.
    Since I thought writing for the public could only be from public figures, I chose a speech from the Chairman of the Beijing Olympics and his establishment for a new Olympia foundation. When I saw my classmates’ material though, I had a completely different interpretation of this kind of writing. I thought the tweets of animals were very interesting. Those photos could be from anyone, a college student like me, a working individual, a mom, anyone. But those posts were able to bring so many people joy and laughter. This is the power of social media, that ordinary people can create extraordinary changes to others. Writing for the public could be any kind of writing for all kinds of people. I think the important part is the word “public”. The question is, who would be reading this piece of writing, what kind of affect would this writing make for the public.
    Writing publicly is something I do not have a grasp on. Obviously there is some distinction between the two concepts, it is hard to be certain what exactly though. Writing publicly, in my opinion, does not have a certain group of people that make the public. But I do think writing public could be as many kinds of genres of writing as writing for the public.
    Writing for the public is no longer just something the author writes for fun. It hold responsibilities because it holds more power than a private piece o writing. The public, the audience who read this piece of writing could have all sorts of different reactions to the writing, just like the animal tweets, pictures that could bring a smile to almost anyone who looks at them.

    • I agree with the sentiment that when signing up for the class, I only considered certain types of writing to be “writing for the public.” Speeches made by politicians, CEOs of large companies, or other important public figures is just one genre of writing that I expected, much like you note in this post. I was also surprised by the array of examples shared in class– newspaper and magazine articles, mission statements, tweets, and online blog posts, just to name a few. However, I was also most pleasantly surprised to see your example, the speech from the chairman of the Beijing Olympics. When I think of things being on display for the public, nothing is a better example than the Olympics, and China is, arguably, one of the most successful countries in terms of wowing audiences and publics all around the world. I was surprised to hear that the website was only recently translated from Chinese into English, as I anticipated the Chinese to want to enable audiences from all around the world to view the speeches, website material, and other public relations pieces. Nevertheless, I think the idea of translating something from its original language into a new language brings up an interesting point about just who a “public” is: what is lost when the original piece is translated? What is gained? Does someone reading the piece in its original language leave with a different impression of the work than the person reading it in the translated language?

    • Although I did not originally think this course would be about public speeches, I completely agree with the previous post regarding writing for the public as public speeches.These speeches could be either for business purposes, or news purposes. Once analyzing this prompt, I determined that these speeches would include writing for television such as what reporters read on a teleprompter. Although these writers tend to write in an unbiased way this is not always the case. I think when writing for the public its important to pay attention to who your audience is. Maybe that is why the speech from the chairman of the Beijing olympics was just recently changed into English as the world is becoming more interested in other country current events.

    • I definitely share your sentiment that it can be really overwhelming when you think about all of the different forms of “writing for the public.” It is everywhere, advertisements, maps, street signs, buses, newspapers, online, even statues (maybe). I have taken a few classes where I really had to open my mind to everything that is going on around me. When you take the time to think about it, almost everything you see has a purpose behind it. The ad on the side of the PAT buses want people to by beer. The “Open” sign on a restaurant hopes that it can lure you inside their establishment. The Pitt pride paintings around campus in the first semester were trying to spark school pride in students during homecoming week. Everything has a message or a story that its trying to get out. You just have to train yourself to always be looking for those things!

    • It is interesting to think about how in just a week both of us (and I’m sure many of our other classmates as well) already have a different perception of what “writing for public” really means. Originally I was under the impression that we would be working on traditional news stories and old school journalism projects. It is intriguing that as technology expands so does the definition and capabilities of public writing. I look forward to discussing more examples in class and analyzing the differences between “publicly writing” and “writing for the public.” And, who knows, maybe we will have to write a speech or something of the sorts sometime this semester 🙂

  5. What writing for the public should do:
    Offer up alternative viewpoints, ideas, theories, while simultaneously appealing to a certain audience and informing them on the topic. It should be able to make people question, mull over, and maybe even rethink their opinions or stances on certain issues or subjects. It should be “thought-provoking,” like the definition that was provided on the first day of class, but also be engaging and multi-faceted.

    So there is public writing, writing for the public, and writing publicly. My initial reaction is that they were all one in the same, just manipulated differently so as to seem like they are more complex. As a writer, sometimes you just go, not realizing what classification your work falls under, and most of the time (as a college student) not caring. Essentially, though, beyond the ambiguity of the words themselves, there are major differences that characterize each.

    Writing for the public
    Engineering your piece towards a certain type of reader. Writing about something, for someone.
    Examples: the Pittsburgh concert map as well as the Cadet-based newspaper entitled Commander’s Note. With that said, really the entirety of the examples that were shared in Thursday’s class can be classified as public writing.

    Writing Publicly
    Seems like something that is easier to accomplished, due to the fact that typically when you write publically, you can afford to be more general than writing for the public. Is it, in actuality, easier?
    The stark similarity between writing publicly and writing for the public is that the public portion of the writing exists in both. I personally believe that either type of writing has the potential to ignite thought, incite action, and truly affect change upon the audience.

    One of the best things about writing publicly/writing for the public is the overall takeaway. When our class was sharing their respective examples, I picked up on the individual interpretations. I wondered, what if I had read that? And sort of thought in a way that focused on the how: how did they come to that conclusion? How did they stumble upon that article? How does that define them as a person or give insight into their character traits?

    This is a way that I had failed to view writing/writers before. This is something that was surprising to me about this class. This is how you think when you write for the public: the how’s, why’s, what’s.

    Take, for example, the Cute Emergency tweets. Being the regrettably social-media obsessed teenager that I am, I come across them on a daily basis. Whether they are retweeted, texted, or messaged to me, I have been exposed to them. At this point, it seems comical that I have never really recognized any kind of reaction to them. “Aw that’s cute,” seems to be the societal norm, but when you really think about it, what’s the purpose? I found it directly embedded on the subheader of the twitter page:
    “For when you need something to cheer you up”

    I liked that. I liked the fact that this class made me delve a little deeper, and use more of my brain cells than I usually do. Occasionally it’s refreshing to stop and analyze something that wasn’t much of anything before. What has surprised you?

    • I agree with you that this class is constantly making my analyze why and how we write even further. Perhaps what is most surprising to me is all of the different definitions we’ve come up with as to what qualifies as “writing publicly” and “writing for a public”. And, while we each have our own ideas, certain aspects of these ideas seem pretty uniform. I think it helps, too that we’re so immersed in social media. Each of us has our own interests as to what and whom we follow on the internet and in print, and that brings a lot of richness to the class in terms of examples and content. I’m really looking forward to what the rest of this class has to offer!

    • I’m not quite sure if I follow the distinction you made between writing for the public and writing publicly. You seem to hint at them being two different things but never really flesh out what the latter of the two actually is. I would argue that writing for the public is a form of writing publicly, but all forms of writing publicly aren’t necessarily writing for the public. So anything posted on Facebook or Twitter is writing publicly, but the content and presentation determine whether or not it is writing for the public.

  6. Writing Publicly Vs. Writing FOR the Public
    A subtle distinction that is not often made in the ever-growing world of media communications is the one between writing publicly and writing for the public. While it may seem to be a trivial matter of semantics, knowledge of the divide between writing publicly and writing for the public is useful to possess as an author when learning how to best reach your intended audience and also as a reader when recognizing the purpose of a piece and its place in relation to other forms of media. But how do we make this distinction?

    Writing Publicly:
    As a member of twenty-first century society, we are all familiar with the fact that practically nothing we do is private anymore, including writing, as our innermost thoughts are posted on the Internet for all to see on a regular basis. Keeping this in mind, an author can be said to be writing publicly when he or she does not have an audience in mind at all. This may seem abstract, but when a teenage girl keeps a journal she is technically writing publicly: she is a member of public society and is composing her thoughts in relation to what is happening around her in the public sphere. Despite this participation in the public, the girl does not intend to publish her journal and thus is not writing for the eyes of the public; she is merely influenced by the public. If the girl’s journal were ever to be read by a family member, her writing may incidentally become public, but it was nevertheless not written with the public in mind and served a private purpose.

    Writing for the Public:
    Writing for the public occurs when an author is driven by a purpose to inform the members of the public about a specific topic that holds either social or personal significance. With this attempt to sway public opinion, the author in these situations is forced to take responsibility for the ideas that he or she presents and must take into account the variety of individuals who may come across these ideas. These individuals may or may not belong to the target audience, which is usually extremely difficult to identify. For example, an article published in The New York Times about the ethics of doctors searching for information on their patients with the assistance of the Internet may be read by journalists at competing newspapers, individuals with a subscription to this paper and those who are interested in healthcare and technology on a personal or professional level. An author of this sort has a duty to the public to be thorough in his or her explanation of the topic and to serve a higher purpose with the piece in a way that a person who is simply writing publicly does not. Check out the following examples to see for yourself the many ways in which authors can be said to be writing for the public!
    • “Cute Emergency” Tweets: The author (s) of these tweets has an extremely wide and varied audience that is nevertheless limited to Internet users. The author is aware of the audience’s desire to be cheered up by photographs of adorable animals and actively works to serve this purpose and thereby maintain its followers and potentially attract more. While this purpose may not seem to be as serious as journalistic articles found in newspapers, it can be defined as socially significant in terms of the number of followers as well as the number of times images are retweeted and thus given an even wider audience.
    • “Kaboom” Mission Statement: In contrast to the previous example, the author of this mission statement has a much more specific purpose and audience in mind with this piece. The aim of a formal mission statement is to describe for the public the nature of the organization and how the members of said organization work to accomplish its goals. The author of a mission statement is tasked with being succinct yet explanatory, formal yet inviting. Public relations are a key facet in any nonprofit organization, so how an organization such as “Kaboom” describes itself to the public can really determine its future.

    • I find it very interesting that you categorized a girl’s journal as public writing, but I somewhat disagree. I understand what you mean when you say that her writing would be influenced by the public sphere since she’d be writing about her experiences in the world, but I don’t think that that meets the criteria for “public writing.” I think for something to be public, it actually has to be published. If no one ever sees her journal, it is almost as if she never wrote it. On the other hand, if this girl were to use a blog to write about her life and make that public on the Internet, then I think that would be public writing because it is available for others. Some authors of personal blogs don’t really have an audience in mind, but the audience is there nonetheless.

  7. I agree with many posts here that writing publicly is not the same as writing for the public. Many writings in the public space are really for private consumption, and not for the public. But while it is easy to identify what is private, it is not so clear what counts as “public”. Before our last class, I thought “public” meant public at large. I was surprised by some examples which had much narrower audience. For example The Cadet is only meant for members of a particular institution. I wouldn’t have thought of that as being “for the public”. So how ‘public’ is public?

    Accessibility is another recurring theme among the posts. Most people seem to think that public writing, not just writings for the public, are accessible to most people. I don’t completely agree. Professional writings like “Journal of Neuroscience” are public. It’s clear that they are not written for the public at large. Their technical language and esoteric content make them inaccessible to the non-specialist. I think intelligibility and specificity of interest are important criteria in considering the target audience.

    But they still leave us a large grey area. For example, the Bell Jar, like many works of literature, may only hold interest for a limited sector of population. They are often written just for these readers. Does that limitation discount these works as being for the public? How wide should the intended audience be? How important is this feature anyways?

    Some writers don’t really aim for a wide audience. Popularity may come at price of adulterated quality. But writers who are trying to spread a message would want their works to be accessible to as many people as possible. Raising awareness of social problems is necessary for solving them. I was particularly interested in the article “Are Books Becoming Obsolete” from Huffington Post. Like the student who brought it in, I found the issue pressing and disturbing. I followed the link and read the article. I was shocked to learn that only one out four adults read a book in the past year. I had no idea things are this bad. I’m not sure what I can do. But many people can take steps towards improving the situation.

    In some posts, raising awareness was worked into characterizations of ‘writing for the public.’ I think this is only one among many valuable functions. Literary works such as the Bell Jar, short stories, poems, and plays teach us how to reflect on our inner lives and empathize with each other. I think these functions are just as important.

    So what is ‘writing for the public’? The scope of ‘public’ is difficult to define. Very coarsely, we may characterize it as the “average” person. Works that are written for the public should be intellectually accessible to the average person, and appeal to widely held interests, with the goal of making some impact on society, whether it be to raise social awareness or affect individuals at the personal level.

  8. Writing for the Public vs. Writing Publically
    Writing for the public seeks to make a difference in the readers’ lives in some meaningful way, whether that be by persuading them to take an action, giving useful information, clarifying a concept, or even just making some specific task easier. While writing for the public involves writing publically, not all examples of writing publically equate to writing for the public. According to the above definition, purely self-interested writing, while it may be publically done, would not count as writing for the public. This would include most forms of advertising because, although they seek to persuade readers to take an action (buy a product), in most cases the purpose of this action is not to make a meaningful difference in the readers’ lives, but the writer’s instead. My definition would also exclude simple entertainment pieces that do little other than pass the readers’ time and capture their attention.

    Identifying Writing for the Public
    Determining whether or not a piece of public writing falls under this definition is not, however, as simple as referring to standard labels and genres. One must look past the writer’s initial goals and carefully analyze the full effect of the piece. Less intuitive, though, is the fact that the final determination relies as much on presentation as it does on substance. An entertaining story in Sports Illustrated about how the 2nd Amendment saved an athlete’s life may qualify more as writing for the public than a gun-rights manifesto published in the NRA national newsletter. While the first could potentially affect a change in the way readers feel about the 2nd Amendment, the second is a perfect example of “preaching to the choir.”

    Class Example: Elle vs. Rolling Stone
    A non-hypothetical example from class further demonstrates the complexity of making the determination outlined above. Compare the article from Elle about Take back the Night, a widespread effort to put an end to sexual violence against women, to “Inside the Belly of the Beast” from Rolling Stone, an article about the horrific treatment of animals inside various labs and meat-factories. On the surface both articles appear to be excellent examples of writing for the public as persuasive pieces calling readers to make some meaningful change, but further analysis will reveal that while this is most certainly true of the Rolling Stone article, the Elle article seems to fall more under the category of entertainment.
    One must look at the intended audiences of the articles and the presumed effect that they could possibly have on these audiences in order to see this distinction. Most readers of Rolling Stone are young, left-leaning freethinkers who closely follow pop culture and the entertainment scene. Intuitively speaking, these are people who would likely feel positively towards animal rights. Many, however, likely are not especially attuned towards animal rights issues, specifically the readers who are there for the music and entertainment. They are what I will label as marginal readers: readers who do not currently support the writer’s cause but would likely do so if properly convinced. By presenting the article to these marginal readers the author is writing for the public because his work has a strong possibility of affecting a change in somebody in this setting.
    The article in Elle has a different effect than the Rolling Stone article because of the way in which it is presented. Most readers of Elle are undeniably woman. Therefore, the article’s obvious intended audience must also be women. Women, however, are not marginal readers on the issue of sexual violence against women. Most women realize the proliferation of sexual violence and do what they can to stop it. The marginal readers on the issue of sexual violence are more likely men who are sensitive to women’s issues. But the presentation of the article in Elle means that many of these marginal readers will never see it, and so there is little chance for the article to affect a change.
    Why publish the article then? My guess would be that because people like reading things that they agree with, the article serves to entertain readers. While I am not completely underwriting the usefulness of the article as an informational piece, it certainly falls less under the category of writing for the public than Rolling Stone’s article.

    • Your example stood out to me due to the method in which you analyzed it. I honestly had not even realized the glaring similarities between the two (Elle vs. Rolling Stone) even though they are essentially the same type of piece. They have a known audience, a target group of readers, as well as marginal readers. I thought that it was interesting how you separated the blog post also, which you didn’t see many people doing (we were definitely on the same track with that one though!) because it was engaging and directed your attention and train of thought a lot easier. I also didn’t think to characterize each audience, but I now think that it probably would have clarified things if I did when I had created my response. That will definitely be something that I can foresee being a solid tool in the future when perhaps detailing an audience or creating a project.

  9. I definitely think that the question of the intended audience is an important one when making the distinction between writing for the public and public writing, but I also feel that an author should also consider the unintended audience as well. Once a piece of writing has been made public, there is no way to ensure that only the target audience has been reached. I think an author has to be aware of this and account for it in his/her writing, even though it may be difficult. For example, literary works such as “The Bell Jar” may be assigned readings for college or high school courses that are not then read for more information about the author or mental illness. Additionally, a piece written in “Elle” magazine may be read in a waiting room by a very bored person with limited reading choices who would never otherwise purchase or subscribe to this type of magazine. How then can an author aspire to reach a wider audience?

  10. Writing “for” the public is writing to get attention. Not attention in a negative sense, but a way to get the word out on something that someone feels deeply about. I think of it as writing that is meant to draw a reader in right away, whether that is through the language, the physical appearance of the text itself, or with illustrations or infographics.

    Another large part of writing “for” the public is how obtainable the piece of writing is. Pieces that are published on a website or in a newspaper are available to everyone (i.e. the public). This is where the line gets blurred between writing “for” the public and writing publicly, and I think the key difference comes from what the author or creator is trying to say.

    The tweets that we looked at in class are examples of writing publicly because, while there is a very large audience, the tweets are not trying to make a change or convey a message (other than maybe how cute baby animals are). Writing “for” the public is different because these are pieces of writing that are deeper than reaching an audience; the message of the writing is the truly important part.

    A mission statement is an example of a piece of writing “for” the public. They use clear and concise language to convey a point, so that whoever comes across it knows exactly what the organization is all about. They are intended to reach a wide audience because they are usually published on an organizations website, but they are also all about the message and trying to make a change. People can look at a mission statement and determine right away whether or not it is an organization that they want to get involved in or help out with; therefore, they are a prime example of writing “for the public”.

    Mission statements are also an example of something I would not have thought of as writing “for” the public before this class; however, before this class I had a very narrow view of what would qualify as writing “for” the public because I only thought about things written in newspapers or magazines. After just one week of this class, it is already clear that writing “for” the public encompasses an enormous range of things.

  11. There is a noticeable difference in “writing for the public” and “writing publicly”. Writing publicly has nothing to do with the public. Its just a type of writing that is personal and available to the public if they wish to read it. The writer is not trying to change anyone’s mind, or inform them, they are just sharing their thoughts, and these thoughts do not need to be viewed just expressed. The public is not taken into consideration when writing. The best example of this would be a novel, specifically fiction, or an opinion piece. Neither sets out to convince anyone of something, but to share ideas.

    “Writing for the public” is not about opinions, while they may be included, but about pushing the readers into doing something- whether it be an actual action or just to change their opinion. There are different types of writing for the public- we were shown tweets, pamphlets, and articles that were attempting to achieve various things.

    The Cute Emergency tweets were about relieving the public of stress- they include pictures of baby animals acting adorable and this takes the viewers mind away from whatever may be plaguing them (if only for an instant). As it was said in class, this also allows people who hold up a publicly hard exterior to have private moments of soft joy. The person who creates these tweets gains nothing with this, they are anonymous and the account only exists to make people happy.

    The destination guide pamphlet was created to help those who are visiting the area and need ideas on what to do. They are not being entertained by it; they are being informed. This is writing for the public, a specific group, and not created in order to express an opinion or release an idea. If it were not for tourists, this pamphlet would not have been created. Another pamphlet was the biking guide, no one but bikers would be looking for it or need it. Once again, it is writing for a specific group.

    Unlike the tweets, which were to uplift the feelings of the viewer, or the pamphlets, which were guides for an audience, articles are written to change the publics opinion or bring their attention to something that it not well known. My article, about books becoming obsolete, was to warn the readers and the public about how little people are reading and how its leading people not to think. Other articles, such as the one about Saving Mr. Banks, try to get their readers to do something. This specific one is about getting its readers to see the movie, praising it and encouraging the readers.

    The main difference between “writing publicly” and “writing for the public” is who it is being written for. Obviously, “writing for the public” is for the public, but “writing publicly” is the author writing for themselves. What also changes this is whether the audience is seeking out a piece, or whether the piece (like the pamphlets) is seeking out a specific audience. When determining between the two, I think it would be easiest to ask “Why was this written?”

    • I found the point brought up in the last paragraph very interesting. I had never really thought about writing publicly as the author writing for his or herself, but I think that’s a point that can definitely be backed up by examples like tweets and Facebook posts. This is why I think social media is a really interesting twist when it comes to figuring out the differences between writing publicly and writing “for” the public, it almost changes the game!

  12. In some ways, I disagree with the distinctions some comments have made about the difference between “writing publicly” and “writing for the public.” Both types of writing could be polished, well thought out, and purposeful; I don’t think that “writing for the public” is the sole example of a style that includes all of these aspects, and in fact there are many examples to the contrary. A piece that intends to promote a public organization could completely lack these qualities, and present a narrow-minded, poorly supported argument. So rather than make distinctions between which style of writing is “better,” I’d rather focus on what the two types intend to accomplish. Writing for the public, to me, means that the author intends not only to present an opinion but also to convince readers to take some form of action. It means to inform, but also to motivate. Whether the action taken by the readers is donating to a cause or simply changing their minds about a particular subject, if the author is successful in creating change then their piece has achieved its goal. Public writing, however, may not have such a concrete purpose. It could range from a personal Twitter feed to a weather report; both examples don’t mean to influence a significant change in mindset or make a lasting impact on the reader.

    In class we talked about how the form of the publication and its circulation could have a major impact on who sees an article, and when they see it. Having grown up during the decline of print media as publications turn to the internet means that we have a much different perspective on print/online media than the generations before us do. Does this mean that, as printed forms are replaced by digital, their content must change? Will this result in pieces being made more general in order to appeal to a wider range of people? Print media is able to focus its content towards a distinct audience, because the likely readers are easy to determine. With online media, however, it is nearly impossible to tell who will see the content. Does this mean that online formats will become less tailored to a certain audience? Or will the trend of specialized content continue?

    The example of writing for the public that I brought into class was the excerpted memoir, “My Age of Anxiety,” by Scott Stossel in The Atlantic. Without the publicity generated by its inclusion in this magazine, Stossel’s book might not have received the attention that (probably) it will. The Atlantic is a widely read magazine, and has (in my opinion) successfully managed to branch beyond its print form into e-Reader and online versions. This widens the readership even more. So people who may not have been inclined to read an entire memoir about a man’s struggles with anxiety now might see themselves reading it, simply because they are subscribers to The Atlantic.

    The issue of mental health and, especially, how our society deals with mental illness has been a popular topic lately. Stossel’s piece offers a unique perspective in that he is an influential public writer who actually has experience in dealing with the issues about which he is writing. His memoir provides the reader with a look into how dealing with anxiety has shaped and disrupted Stossel’s life. But unlike many other memoirs, his doesn’t intend to tell the story of his whole life. His focus on the aspect of life that relates to his mental health issues makes the piece more a piece of “writing for the public” rather than simple “public writing.” He aims to change people’s opinions about mood disorders and to make it possible for readers who don’t suffer from anxiety to truly understand what he has experienced. In other words, his article has a stated purpose, and it aims to make an impact. This is what I defined earlier as my idea of what writing for the public should do.

    • I think the transition from print to online publications will definitely change how people write. However I think the specificity of writing is not determined so much by who reads it, but by whom the author wants to address. The latter group may have to grow much bigger than what the author wants. For example, a rightwinger is unlikely to pick up a leftwinger magazine of a bookshelf. But online, with opportunities for comments and blogs, people of all sorts of political inclinations read and make their opinions known. An online political publication must deal with reactions of both camps. I think that will broaden the contents and change the attitude of these publications.

    • I really liked your discussion about how writing will change as we switch from print to (mostly) digital media. I think this is a particularly pertinent subject, especially for those of us who are graduating seniors who might be considering a career in some sort of writing field. Print newspapers and magazines are struggling to stay afloat, and when choosing which information to share on online sources, publications must make choices about which stories to share, how much of the articles to include, and how to format them. Publications like the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have already announced that they will be charging users to view news articles online. Will this decrease readership, or will readers be more likely to pay to be able to view things on their computers or tablets? I also think the question about whether or not the audience will change as more publications switch to digital media. I think it’s certainly easier to view material when it’s online, and it’s easier to share, but will the web become overloaded with too many overlooked pieces, articles, and other forms of writing?

  13. Before discussing the difference between writing for the public and writing publicly, I think it is important to examine the purpose of why individuals write. Do you want to remember an important event in your life? Say the day you got engaged. Do you want to get others attention? To remind your high school friends how much fun you have in college? Or is it to inform the public of a specific event? For example, a presidential election. Once you examine why you are writing, it is easier to determine the type of writing you are doing for example, writing for the public or writing publicly.

    Writing for the Public:
    Writing for the public targets a specific audience. The goal is to pursued or inform. These writers tend to be qualified and receive their information from a valid source. The writer tends to bear more of a burden to be accurate factually or represent an opinion using appropriate language. There is more responsibility because your point of view is to be informative or provide an opinion. Generally, this type of writing is more formal. Examples of writing for the public could be newspapers, books, magazines, textbooks or technical journals. Specifically the Cadet magazine a fellow peer brought in. This writing also takes place for broadcasts on television. Although some may consider this a slight stretch, I believe advertising is another form of writing for the public.

    Writing Publicly :
    Anyone regardless of sex, religion, gender, age can write publicly. For example, my seven year old male cousin is on Facebook, as well as my 78 year old grandmother. When they post different status updates, or pictures they are writing publicly. While in class someone used the example of the cute emergency tweets, social media usage is not just confined to individual members of society like you and me. Many companies use social media to market their products and inform their consumers of different promotions and product extensions. Writers tend to write informally. These writers should measure their words more carefully, often times they tend to share information regardless of its importance or accuracy. These writers are less interested in who is reading or interpreting it.

  14. When considering the concepts ‘writing for the public’ and ‘writing publicly’, I first thought of them as two very different notions. However, when I jumped from the position of reader to writer, I realized that they share several of the same qualities.

    Writing for the public seems to insinuate the topic of the piece is written with the intention of reaching an audience by which the audience can receive some “thing” from it. Writing for the public in my belief is a means of communication where the writer is providing information that is useful to the reader. The information can range from the promotion of an important issue such as such as mental illness, to suggesting a movie worth watching, describing the features of the Pittsburgh bike trail, or comedic relief from every day life through images of cute animals. However, information is only as important is it is interpreted by the reader. Topics written for the public must interest the audience and therefore keep that audience in mind during the composition and compilation of the piece.

    Writing publicly, on the other hand, projects the idea that the topic of the piece may not have a specific audience in mind. Rather the purpose of the publicity of the piece may in fact be more for the purposes of the writer rather than the reader. For example, over the past few years public journaling through means such as Xanga and personal blogging have increased rapidly in popularity. In these instances it seems that the writer is perhaps more often focused on the content of their writing rather than the interpretation of the reader.

    It is interesting, however, to look at how publicity has changed the perception of sharing personal bits of information and the content of public pieces. Facebook and twitter can often be described as peoples “public diaries,” while others use it for means of promotion of information in a more “writing for the public” sense. Ultimately, it seems that ‘writing for the public’ and ‘writing publicly,’ while they may have began with different intentions for the writer and the reader, have over the years crossed each others boundaries. More and more frequently, people enjoy reading other people’s blogs and hearing their thoughts on different issues and different topics from politics, to fashion, to sports, to personal lives. The increase in interest of these audiences in turn creates more pressure on the writer to continue production of their pieces, which indicates that ‘writing publicly’ has almost morphed into ‘writing for the public.’

    The morphing of these two types of writing was further emphasized by the variety of pieces provided by my fellow classmates. It was amazing to see all of the different interpretations of public writing, and also the diversity of interests (aka audiences) within the class. From books to travel guides to twitter posts, the variety of topics and the various forms of the pieces highlighted the different ways people define public writing, and redefined how I envision it as well. Each of the pieces had differences in terms of their format and also their locations, while the Selfie article was found on The Chive, the editors note was found in The Original Magazine. Despite their differences, I was shocked to see that each of the pieces had similarities in that they all had an important meaning to each of the readers presenting the piece, indicating the author achieved their goal in writing for a public. Additionally, through the increase in communication in society by means of social networks and the Internet, the location of public pieces can much more readily spread from one location to the next and reach several more audiences than with its original intention. Interestingly this can apply to all of the articles discussed in class, because even those found in a book, such as the Bell Jar, could be typed as a quote in a Facebook post or in a tweet which reaches an entirely new audience.

    Writing for the public should enthrall the reader in a topic, which effectively conveys the author’s message by considering the audience, so as to leave the reader with information that betters their perspective, decisions, and or perceptions. I believe understanding your audience and also the format of the piece are integral in how it is interpreted and how it ensures the communication of the intended message. It is great to see a transformation in the formats of pieces to include images, videos, tweets, and technology, all working to expand the engagement of more audiences in more public pieces.

    • I agree completely that “writing for the public” and “writing publicly” has morphed together over the years. That although both are written with different intentions, writing publicly can slowly change into writing for the public. For example, I know that Youtube stars feel pressured with trying to maintain a steady stream videos that are witty and/or better than the previous videos. I think that when writers who are writing publicly become a sensation with the public, that sometimes the writer may lose their originally purpose and identity. In trying to appease the public with their written pieces, the writer may sometimes change their style in order to stay in the public’s favor.

      I also enjoyed your last point in the last paragraph of how the written piece could send a message that will allow the reader to gain enlightenment of some sort. Whether it changes how the reader’s perception of the world can change or how they make future decisions. I thought that was interesting.

  15. When it comes to writing publicly and writing for a public, I believe that we, as writers of various degrees, are used to writing a little bit of both.

    “Hold on, I gotta tweet this…”
    Writing publicly conjures up thoughts of today’s almost constant focus on social media, where our respective news feeds are being continuously updated with news we care about or at least keep around for entertainment (I’m looking at you, perpetually-complaining Facebook friends). This form of writing should be fun, lighthearted, and witty, while also supplying a good dose of information and thought-provoking material. I suppose, in this way, anyone can be considered a “public writer”, whether they’re posting about the latest celebrity gossip or complaining about the rough day they had at work. This brings to mind another point: public writing does not have to have a specific intent. When we post something to Facebook, craft a 140-character tweet, or cleverly caption an Instagram photo, we do it because we have something on our mind. There is no specific audience, no authorial intent, no “angle”. The only “audience” in this case is anyone who cares to notice what we’ve written. Writing publicly can almost be seen as “inclusive” because it does not discriminate against a reader

    “This issue, we’re going to focus on (insert weirdly specific topic here).”
    On the other hand, writing for the public is far more specific. As seen in many of the examples we used in class, things like mission statements, editor’s notes, and book passages are created with a specific topic mind. Writing for the public should be largely informative while catering to a specific audience. When I think of writing for the public, I think of myself as a writer for an arts and culture magazine – writing about certain things that we know our audience likes and finding the best way to make it appeal to them. Unlike writing publicly, writing for the (or “a”) public has a specific audience and a specific angle created by the writer. Pieces written for the public can be found not only on magazine racks, tables in waiting rooms, or airport gift shops, but also in online editions of publications.

    When it comes to the examples we used in class, I agree with many of you when you say that the series of Cute Emergency tweets were a prime example of writing publicly. The tweets of adorable puppies and kittens are posted for the “aww!” factor and provide something uplifting and cute in contrast to news blurbs sent out by AP, CNN, or our favorite sports network, which, in their own way, cater to a specific demographic.
    A lot of examples thoroughly demonstrated writing for the public. Pieces such as the Take Back the Night article, The Bell Jar (one of my personal favorite reads) and the WPTS Radio Zine definitely cater to a specific audience. Each covers a different topic targeted toward a different demographic. In this way, I feel as though writing for the public tends to be a little “exclusive” – as we said, you wouldn’t expect a man to pick up Elle magazine.

    What do you all think? Is it easier/more fun to write publicly or write for a specific public?

    • I find it interesting that you think the audience of public writing is wider than that of writing for the public. I tend to think it’s the other way around. This is partly because it’s hard for me imagine any writing that does not have a particular audience in mind. Public writing is always writing for somebody. But that ‘somebody’ is not necessarily the public. Sometime a piece of public writing, like a personal tweet, maybe just for a small circle of one’s friends. In terms of targeted audience as opposed to readership, public writings can be pretty exclusive. I definitely think it is easier and more fun to write for a smaller audience, which the writer can really get to know.

    • First off, I want to say how I really enjoyed how you utilized quotes and catchy phrases throughout your post! Secondly, I think you have a really interesting take on writing publicly, and I enjoyed what you said in that it may not be seeking a specific audience. I think over the years it has become more socially acceptable to write publicly about whatever your heart desires, without necessarily concerning yourself with who it is going to reach and how it will reach them. And I agree with your statements that writing for the public requires more focus on not only the topic but also the audience. However, I think it is interesting to look at how writing publicly has started to become influenced by the public through increased popularity and demand for such pieces, which makes me wonder if the authors of such pieces are perhaps starting to have an audience in mind.

  16. Writing for the public should be written to serve the public’s need for information. For example, I know that we all have a need to know about the many scandals in the media or tragedies in the world. These types of news are written in such a way that can alert the reader of the types of views that we may possess when trying to understand the world.

    For example, I like reading a popular women’s magazines such as Cosmopolitan. The types of articles written in this magazine are written for the interests of women and those who wish to be a part of the ever changing idealism of beauty. When I read these articles, I feel as if I should follow the ideas that are being conveyed whether it is beauty or feministic values.

    This example shows how writing for the public can alter a reader’s view on life by agreeing or disagreeing with the ideas of the article. We all have our own opinions, and I know that we like to see if there are others of recognition who agree with us as well. And when we come across an article that may seem disagreeable, it shows that writing for the public can be interlocked with writing publicly.

    Writing publicly means to write our thoughts for the world to see. We write according to our own values and expressions, yet we also write for others to see and view us in a different light. We write to make ourselves feel better and for others to understand us. How do we write to make others understand us? I understand that when we write, we all have our own styles of writing so sometimes it may be harder to understand each other. We may agree with each other, but we will also have our ideas

    • I completely agree that we write to feel better or for others to understand us. In high school I kept a journal when in order to remember different events in my life that were monumental. For example I wrote about a surprise birthday party my friends had for me, and the first time I went to a party. But I do believe that their are other reasons why we write, or post on social media. For example to attract attention from our peers, or inform them of different events in our lives. This could follow the definition given of writing for the public because this could be considered “to serve the publics need for information”. Many people constantly check their social media accounts to find information about their friends or follow famous individuals.

  17. I think when thinking about writing for the public, the first thing you think about is the intention of the author or authors of the particular piece in question. What was their purpose? Was their message intended for a specific audience? Did they intentionally leave an audience out?

    All of these questions are why I feel “writing for the public” and “writing publicly” are two very different things. A lot of the answers to the above questions can be attributed to authors deliberately crafting their story in order to reach a certain audience, strike a specific emotion, or incite a desired response. The specific intent involved in writing for the public sets it about from a lot some other writing in a public forum.

    The example that really struck a response from me was the story from Rolling Stone about meat production in the United States. I was and still am very intrigued by the differences in effect from one medium to the next. Our classmate who shared the posted explained that in the online version, you saw gruesome pictures, videos, and other means for seeing the troubled system of meat production. However, you didn’t necessarily get that in the printed version of the article. Only having a few photos and text could completely the response felt by the reader. Having to describe a situation through the use of words is so much more difficult than having the luxury of video to tell your story. Watching a video from one of the factories can imprint the “real” image in the mind of a reader forever. Can having the same article posted on two separate mediums be effective?

    While I think posting an article in two different media platforms can be really challenging, it also really increases the availability of the piece. People may be inclined to look further into the issue if they read it in print first. This then could lead them to the online version to see additional videos and pictures. However the opposite could indeed happen as well. If you went to the online version, experienced your specific response, you wouldn’t really feel too inclined to read the print version.

    I think all of this just further proves the idea that writing FOR the public is something intentional. The careful crafting to serve the people out our school, our city, our state, our country, or our world really makes it worth of being studied. Why do certain people do some things? Why do some do others? That is what we are here to discover, and it will definitely be an interesting ride!

    Definition- Writing for the public intentionally crafts a message in order to elicit a specific thought, response, or action.

    • I like how you made a point that a message in two different mediums can elicit two different and specific responses. And how when writers write for the public, they have an intent to reach a specific audience. It made me think how a majority of those who write on popular forms of public writing such as this site (wordpress) or other blogging sites, these writers purposely write to gain an audience. That although they may write publicly, they intentionally write to gain a response from the public.

    • I think you had some really great points in this post, and I especially liked your analysis of how mediums can potentially change how the message is conveyed. In the example of the rolling stones article and the comparison on the gruesome videos and images vs the plain print article in the magazine, I think you were really on point in suggesting that the message may not have been as strong in just print as opposed to the version which included visuals. At the same time, thought I think you had another good point in saying that, the various forms of articles allows it to reach more audiences because depending on the reader they may have skipped over the article completely if the images had been in the magazine as well.

    • Thanks for sharing your definition of “writing for the public” with us, Joe! I think writing for the public is especially effective when it produces a response or action in the reader and I too am intrigued by the emotions that can be felt with visuals in addition to writing. Many written pieces can be overwhelmingly full of emotions (I still find myself crying like a baby over some of my favorite novels haha) but there is something even more powerful linked with visual connections. The pathos within the Rolling Stone article really have the power to persuade the reader’s emotions. To answer your question, if this exact article were to be in a different medium I don’t think that it would be nearly as effective. It would more than likely produce an ethical appeal and in some readers an emotional reaction but for the majority of the public it was most effective published as it was.

  18. First and foremost, I apologize for this late submission—I had a couple of personal issues arise over the weekend that required immediate attention and I am a little behind on playing catch-up and dealing with those effects. Now as I write that publicly, let’s talk about publicly writing…

    After observing the wide examples of “writing for the public” in just our class alone it is obvious that there are discrepancies and variations in what classifies and differentiates ”writing for the public” and “writing publicly.” Defining “public writing” is a challenge because there are so many writers, readers, viewpoints, and opinions in the public. I do agree that there is a difference in “writing for the public” and “writing publicly” and I think that the medium, subject, and main audience set boundaries between the two.

    Just last week I wouldn’t’ have been as confident in saying that because of the predisposition that most public writing was written for the public. Traditional news articles and journals first come to mind when I think about “writing for the public.” However, this thought was altered on day one of class once the syllabus was handed out and it was known that we would be working on “public writing” projects that weren’t just the same old boring traditional format. Don’t get me wrong, those types of articles can be just as great but I’m just not geared to enjoy and comprehend them as well. The medium in which a written work is published factors into if it was “writing for the public” or “writing publicly.” For example, if an article is published in an extremely successful newspaper like the New York Times, then it is more than likely going to be classified as “writing for the public” simply because it will be read by a larger population, it is from a reputable source, and most likely written by an expertise of some sort. These types of written works are intended for multiple publics. On the other side, if an article is only published in a Cadet magazine like the one reviewed in class, then it is more than likely “public writing” because it is intended for a small target audience. These types of written works are considered to be for a particular public.

    The main audience of a piece of written work can also help to determine if it was “written for the public” or “publicly written.” It was intriguing to see what “counts” as writing for the public. Nowadays with technological advances, the ever-growing social media domain, and the world of the wide web, pieces of work that by definition aren’t even “writing” can still be considered “public writing.” Multimedia pieces, info graphics, tweets, even Facebook posts are all considered public writing. The medium can also affect the audience, which factors heavily in determining the public intent of writing. For example, the “Cute Emergency” Twitter posts are mostly going to be viewed by our generation and are written to appeal to the majority of us. As we discussed in class, the slang terms used to describe the ridiculously adorable photos are fully appreciated by the technology age tweeters.

    As our society continues to modernize, it seems as if the definition of “writing for the public” loosens and many factors such as the medium, subject, and main audience contribute to what can now be classified as “writing for the public.”

  19. “Writing for the public” triggers an event or action to follow. If the writing moves a person to act in some way, may it be mentally as an opinion or physically in doing a good deed, then the author of the writing has used his work “for the public” in a useful and meaningful way. For example, most of the postings for the first assignment (finding something that serves the public) were not something just informational but tended to strike a chord emotionally such as a mission statement for the children, or the inhumane slaughter of animals for food. These emotions are triggered by the writing which is a certain response that is at the heart of writing for the public.

    The next question is what is “public writing”? Public writing seems to be more of a writing that does not invoke any event or action when read. It is almost like a decoration or a mark of existence that serves no purpose to the public (it is possible that it may serve the individual in some capacity, however). Many social networks are a black hole for this type of writing. On Twitter and Facebook, for example, people type a status about the most miniscule things about their day: something they just had to eat, how they are feeling, they just went out to exercise, etc.

    My PERSONAL response to these public writing posts is frankly one of boredom. There is no application of these posts to my life and therefore the author is not writing to/for me (me being a member of the public). These posts could, however, be something that would invoke some sort of action within me such as a picture posted of a friend hiking in the woods out in a western state. Seeing that makes me want to pack my bag and go out west to join him! Therefore, that post is for the public (me) even though it may have only been intended to be public writing with no specific intent of causing action on anybody else’s part.

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