There’s not a hotter topic than bullying this spring.
To help people understand the problem and find healthy solutions, ReadTheSpirit teamed with students from Michigan State University’s journalism school to produce a book, “The New Bullying.”
And—Wow! We did it in 101 days.
Many leading journalists and publishers are trying to work like this. Journalists are at their best when investigating new problems faced by readers nationwide. When covering a problem as tough as bullying, journalists produce a lot of important information—often more than can be shoehorned into a newspaper or magazine. From book publishers’ perspectives, we want to rush the most urgent books to readers as soon as possible. Some major publishing houses already are producing quickie books. But those books rarely involve tackling subjects this complex, coordinating a team of writers and editors this big and producing all formats of the book (from ink-on-paper to all e-editions) in a single flow through the publishing software.
It took Michigan State University journalism instructor Joe Grimm, ReadTheSpirit publisher and software developer John Hile—and the talented students pictured above—to pull off this feat. They have set off a buzz across their home state of Michigan, appearing on radio and television and in other news formats since the book was finished.
The New Bullying:
MSU School of Journalism perspective
By JOE GRIMM
The publishing arm of ReadTheSpirit helped our team of young journalists at Michigan State University to take an edgy idea—and turn it into something that is bleeding edge. Our idea, as 2012 began, was to take one semester’s worth of work by a specialized reporting class at MSU’s School of Journalism and produce a book. After all, a website already was planned, so a book was not far beyond that, we reasoned. “The New Bullying” became the name of the website and the book.
There were several reasons we wanted to produce a book:
A FIRST: The class had never been done in this way.
FLEXIBILITY: This project taught students multiplatform publishing across the Web, traditional print publishing and various e-book readers.
AUTHORITY: Even in this digital age, books still command respect and confer credibility.
REVENUE: While people expect the Web to be free, they will pay for books. We want journalism to generate revenue.
We combined with ReadTheSpirit’s publishing arm, David Crumm Media LLC (DCM), and invited DCM publishing innovator John Hile to work with our class. John’s expertise and his software system added several layers of sophistication to the project. He visited with the students, interacted throughout the semester and let our team use the software suite he has developed.
What are those layers John added?
RESEARCH: Our MSU journalists started the whole project by using sophisticated tools John demonstrated to analyze what people are searching for online about this topic. That showed us specific information on bullying that real people are trying to find, right now. This information changed the way we approached the broad topic of bullying.
STREAMLINED PRODUCTION: We reached the finish line in 101 days partly because John’s software system adds all the necessary coding for final publication as the chapters are being prepared by copy editors. Instead of two processes, back to back, this approach completes the editing and the digital styling in a single pass.
SINGLE-SOURCE PUBLISHING: Usually, an ink-on-paper book is produced, then e-books are produced later by designers adapting the book’s text files for digital readers. When we were ready to publish, we produced all formats for the various reading platforms—from the paper format to e-reader editions—from a single source file in a unified pass of the publishing software.
How is the public responding? People are impressed. Most of the early news coverage of this project is about bullying—which is as it should be—but the success of the project will come as much from how the class published as from what it published.
The New Bullying:
RTSpirit publisher’s perspective
By JOHN HILE
The book is dead.
Long live the book!
At Read the Spirit, we all love books—I mean we really love books, including those old-fashioned books that were printed on paper. Remember those?
That statement seems premature today and maybe (hopefully) for a long time to come, but don’t doubt that what an increasing number of people, especially the younger variety, mean when they use the word “book” is changing—and fast.
Since its inception, Read the Spirit Books has looked at a book as something more fundamental and elemental than beautifully printed pages wrapped in a cover: it’s the voice of the author, the valuable ideas and insights caught, shared, networked, linked, read, re-read and planted in history.
Technically, around the RTS (virtual) office, that printed, tangible thing that most of us still envision when we think of a book is really only an optional implementation. To us (well, at least to me as RTS Publisher) a book is an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) file that contains all the structure and content we need to create many, varied implementations: print, iBook, Kindle Book, Nook Book, ePub3, Mobi, HTML5, PDF. With every passing season, new names and acronyms are strutting around, roaming everywhere, getting into scrapes with each other. But, using our publishing system at RTS—all of those forms are born at the touch of a (software) button once we have that all-important XML file.
So when our good and talented friend, Joe Grimm, had the wild idea of using an upper-level journalism class he teaches at Michigan State University to create and publish a book in one term, we didn’t edge away. In fact, since the RTS hive is overrun with veteran journalists, we thought it might do the new crop good to get an early look at some of the mind-bending twists they’re destined to encounter on their journey into publishing land.
These students came through! They tackled keyword research, high-quality subject exploration and writing, designing, brainstorming and innovating until they had a book they could be very proud of publishing. How did they handle our newly minted and unconventional publishing tools? Like they handle the new social media platforms coming out every month; like they handle the latest gadgets coming out just as fast to connect to the new social media platforms coming out every month. In short: They handled this big challenge like enthusiastic students who regularly explore and experiment with anything put in front of them.
And they didn’t fail to push our boundaries in the process: No video in print or on older e-readers? No problem, they said, let’s just throw some QR codes into the text, then everyone will know how to view those videos with their smart phones.
So, check out their book. While you’ll learn a lot you didn’t know about why bullying isn’t what you remember it was in your day, you’ll also be encountering a significant data point in the history of publishing and the first published output of some great and innovative publishers of the future.
The New Bullying:
Get the book! And read/view the news:
FIRST: Take a look at the MSU New Bullying Website! You’ll find news stories and videos. To dig even deeper, check out the various links in the black index bar across the top of the page.
MSU NEWS: Michigan State University News covers the project in an online news story that also provides contact information for an MSU representative and for Joe Grimm.
THE STATE NEWS: Story reported by Derek Blalock, headlined “Journalism Class Publishes Book on ‘New Bullying.’
RADIO INTERVIEW: WILS RADIO interviewed Joe Grimm about the work of his MSU team. Here’s a link to the 11-minute audio of the interview.
WOOD-TV: For its web version of the story, WOOD-TV Channel 8 ran the Associated Press report.
WANT IT IN NOOK? (The link with the cover image, above, goes to Amazon’s Kindle page.) The book also is available via Barnes and Noble for Nook.
WANT IT VIA GOOGLE? Google’s own bookstore is both powerful and popular, these days.
Watch Channel 7 Interview on New Bullying
Click the video screen below to see the short TV report. If you don’t see a video screen in your version of this story, click this link to reload our story in your web browser.
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Originally published at readthespirit.com, an online magazine covering religion and cultural diversity.