Learning to Grow as a Writer: A Reflection
Throughout the past semester at Emory in my English 101 class, I have learned to be a more critical, thoughtful, and analytical writer through an in-depth investigation of news and media literacy in the digital age. In the past few months, I have strengthened my understanding of how to write in many different formats such as a tweet, a voice thread response, a blog post, and an expository essay. Additionally, I learned how to effectively read and write critically in order to present my argument in the most unbiased way. In my English 101 class, I learned to broaden my writing skills and I have ultimately become a more versatile writer.
Prior to my English 101 Career at Emory, I was only responsible for writing argumentative and persuasive essays; in English 101, I learned how to write fluidly in multiple genres as exhibited in my Greg Bluestein blog post. In our nearly 45-minute interview with Atlanta Journal-Constitution political reporter Greg Bluestein, I wanted to gain an insight into the world of journalism in an era of fake news. He believes that fake news has an entirely different meaning today. “Fake news used to be news that was made up… now it has become news that people just don’t like” (Bluestein). In my first draft of my blog post surrounding our interview, I struggled with how to write for an online audience; I used a scholarly tone and long sentences without proper citation and links. In my second draft, however, I learned how to write for the internet. I used short paragraphs with citations containing minimal mistakes. I learned how to highlight Bluestein’s words through the use of paraphrases and quotations. Through short declarative sentences, I was able to draw in the reader and focus in on the main idea. Additionally, in high school I only learned how to create citations in Chicago-Turabian; I now know how to use MLA and properly cite my quotations and sources. This short blog post about Greg Bluestein not only taught me how to write for the internet, but it taught me that there are still people, like Bluestein, fighting to keep the truth in the media.
In my research process for my expository essay, I became a more critical and thorough reader. I learned to look at the facts of a news story and create my own conclusion, rather than accepting a statement solely due to the fact it was written by a reputable source. I wanted to use my expository essay as an opportunity to communicate my opinion and the facts of the opioid epidemic, without bias in clear rhetoric. Throughout my essay, I tried to use a direct tone, yet simultaneously engage the public with a more scholarly, educated tone. My topic, the opioid epidemic, is one that is widely discussed for its controversial content. This controversial topic created a challenge for me as a writer, but more broadly as a researcher. There is much argument about whether opioid addiction should be blamed on pharmaceutical companies. In doing my research, I had to be especially careful when evaluating bias in sources. I also had to be careful when evaluating my own biases. One area that I could improve in this particular area is with respect to feedback. My professor gave me a valuable recommendation regarding my topic, more specifically to use a particular legal case within my argument, but I felt that it was not relevant due to its bias. I should have more carefully inspected this bias within this legal case to incorporate it into my paper, thus strengthening my argument throughout the paper.
Thorough evaluation of my writing development and the formulaic process of writing my expository essay allowed me to be a more careful and efficient writer. Creating a source assessment of five different types of sources, particularly the scholarly article, allowed me to investigate sources that I would not usually consult. The series of source assessments allowed me to be particularly specific when reading an article. Rather than reading an article once or twice, I had to answer crucial questions with regard to each individual source. Within the source assessments, the questions provided me with content to incorporate throughout my essay. For example, in my assessment of the newspaper story, I described the audience of the article. “The article intends to bring attention to the widespread, growing number of adolescents and young children who are facing accidental deaths due to opioids. The article states that Prescription opioids accounted for 73% of the deaths, but heroin killed nearly 1,900 (about 24%) of those age 15 to 19” (Ravitz). I might have otherwise missed the importance of this particular fact if I had not done an in-depth analysis due to the source assessment. This writing exercise has provided me with helpful preparation for essays I will write in the future. Until writing this essay, I thought that my high school had prepared me well for writing essays with detail and specific attention. The source assessment that we completed prior to writing the essay allowed me to delve into sources in a way I had not before. In the future, I will use the specific questions outlined in the source assessment when writing. This will allow me to better evaluate the information I encounter and attempt to avoid my confirmation bias and to check the validity of a source.
Throughout my English 101 career, particularly through my experience with my expository essay, I learned how to be an objective writer, listener, and reader. I gained a greater understanding of what it takes to write an unbiased yet concrete argument. In my high-school career, I rarely completed multiple drafts of my writing; I almost always created one final draft and never revised it. My English 101 class has taught me that feedback from professors, as well as my peers, can be extremely valuable in writing. Additionally, my English 101 class has taught me to proofread carefully and think critically when writing in order to strengthen the validity of my arguments. My experience writing in various different formats this past semester will allow me to be a more well-rounded writer and overall student in my time at Emory.
This site is an archive of the work I completed as part of ENG101: News Literacy in the Digital Age at Emory University during the spring, 2019 semester. The syllabus for that class can be found here: