Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Hip to be Cool

As a former student of Charles Michener, the author and former Newsweek and New Yorker editor who accepted a visiting professor position in Case Western Reserve University's tiny but proud English department, I was eager to see him speak at today's City Club lunch.

I stuck my "Media" sticker-tag to the front of my jacket and took a seat in the back of the room. A few warm introductions and pleas for new members later, Michener took his place at the podium and began telling the room what he loves about Cleveland, what stinks about Cleveland and how Cleveland can turn itself around. (Michener, by the way, is not a transplant but a native Northeast Ohioan who has returned to work on his book about the city.)

One of his ideas is the Great Lakes Center for New Media, a project that, with any luck, is soon to come out of Case Western Reserve University -- my alma mater. Scribbled in my notes from the speech is the line, "I graduated too soon." Not only will CWRU have its English department, with the requisite courses in Modern Literature, symbolism in The Scarlet Letter and How to Write a Term Paper 101, there will also be lessons in publishing, (professional) blogging and the best applications for electronic media. Way cool.

Basically, old media isn't getting the job done, Michener says. It brought a tear to my eye (and probably a few of the PD reporters scattered around the room), but we shan't despair. The best way to counterbalance the fall? Break into new media, emphasis on the new. To those of you reading this blog, take note that we've taken note. Reaching a wider audience means branching out from strictly traditional vehicles for the written word to modes of transportation that all the cool kids are doing. It's not peer pressure, it's dissemination with awareness.

Search for the keywords "Great Lakes Center for New Media" and you'll come up empty-handed. But to hear Michener talk about it, you can imagine construction already starting on a new, state-of-the-art home for the center. I, for one, will be donating.
Caption: Bonnie Humphrey, Charles Michener and me

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