Pioneering Textbook Goes Into Second Edition

Ten years ago, Earl R. Hutchison Sr., professor of English at Tennessee Technological University, recognized an opportunity when he saw it. Before the early 1980s, few introductory journalism textbooks addressed the explosion of media outlets in an information age and the concept of writing across the media. By the time the first edition of Hutchison's textbook, Writing for Mass Communication, was published in 1986, the market was ripe for such a text.

"At the time we conceived this book, there wasn't another like it," says Hutchison, whose text has now been replaced with a second edition. "Sometimes beginning students think they're interested in newspaper writing, but by the time they're introduced to all the other forms of journalism, they may decide they're more interested in radio or television reporting. That's why this book came along. Journalism departments were looking for textbooks that covered all forms of writing, and there just wasn't one available."

College freshmen don't necessarily consider journalism as a major because they have a burning desire to become newspaper reporters or television news anchors, but often because they feel they have a talent for writing. Given the increase in such information sources as news wire services, cable television, newsletters and the Internet, it becomes easy to explain the shift from journalism programs that emphasize the specific -- say, newspaper writing -- to more comprehensive programs that stress the foundation: writing for mass communication.

Rich with writing samples of the nation's finest journalists and other writers, Writing for Mass Communication gives student writers a taste of what it would be like to work in any of the print and broadcast media, as well as the related fields of public relations and advertising.

Between 1988 and 1992, 81 universities and colleges (among them, Harvard University, Boston University and the University of Colorado) adopted Hutchison's text. The new edition was significantly revised based on users' observations -- including those of Tennessee Tech EnglishPjournalism majors. New to the second edition are expanded sections on advertising and public relations, updated coverage of the electronic media, a new chapter on speech writing and, overall, an even stronger focus on writing.

Hutchison, who joined the Tennessee Tech faculty in 1980, is also the author of Tropic of Cancer on Trial: A Case History of Censorship and Mass Media and the Law: Freedom and Restraint.