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Benjamin Falvey

September 18, 2014
Prof. Portman-Daley
WRT 303: Public Writing
A Blanket Definition Of Public Writing
Walking around in the modern world means seeing hundreds of thousands of pieces of
public writing every week. On top of the huge mass of information circulating the internet, sites
like Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter are giving ordinary people a voice in the public forum.
Stepping foot on a college campus means coming face to face with hundreds of leaflets, flyers,
and posted advertisements. These pieces of the scenery are all written by various people for
essentially the same reason: to put that information out to readers, and to bring it into people’s
lives for debate, discussion, or attention.
Public writing isn’t so much its own type of writing, but the way it needs to be thought of
is in the same way we think of musical genres. When we classify music, the category of Rock
usually automatically comes to mind for most of the music from the last 50 years. However,
Rock music is, and has always been a very varied form. There are many different kinds of Rock,
from Folk Rock down to Heavy Metal. These genres of music all fall under the umbrella genre of
Rock, just as many types of writing fall under the form of public writing. For example, an article
is a piece of journalistic writing, but it would absolutely fall under the same category of public
writing due to the kind of exposure it gains with an audience.
The goal with public writing is to get information or an opinion out to the public. The text
Public Writing shows many examples of public writing, and there are both objective and
subjective examples, showing the varied definition again. The objective pieces of information
include charts, graphs, and also more objective articles of information such as public bulletins,
press releases. More biased examples with more subjective interpretations include editorials,

letters to the editor, protest material, articles, and any information that reflects a specific side of
an issue.
As our textbook puts it, “…public writing is the kind of writing that we engage in to
explicitly seek social, political, or constitutional change in order to solve problems of immediate
public concern (Shamoon 21).” The book also mentions that public writing seeks to accomplish
the resolution of problems of concern in the immediate realm. Public writing gives ordinary
citizens the ability to have their voice heard, and raise awareness to something, such as an event,
an issue, or a direct conflict which requires resolution.
CNN features examples of public writing every day. On the front page today, Scotland
will soon be voting for their independence. As the polls close, the coverage on CNN is quickly
drawing conclusions and making quick calls as to the winner of the race. However, the BBC has
backed off considerably, knowing that it is a substantially more important issue for them and
their viewers. In this way, we see two examples of public writing, and though neither is
necessarily biased towards either side, BBC has confirmed that their sources are claiming that
the ‘No’ votes have won, while CNN has declared that 58% of voters voted ‘Yes’. The
uncertainty of the vote causes the BBC to back off on declaring a false ‘Yes’ answer. For their
viewers, it would be more reasonable for them to expect that the vote would not pass, and that
the Scotts would vote no. However, the CNN broadcast is after American ratings, which are all
about the entertainment value. In that vein, CNN posts on their site that 58% are for cecession
and a whopping 52% are against. This shows that a simultaneous news story being reported by
two separate news organizations can be broadcasted differently to adjust to their audience.
In the same way, public writers aim to sway their readers on important issues in some
regards, and in others aim to remain objective observers, shelling out charts and graphs of hard

facts. Some public writing is biased. Some is simply incorrect, and some is spectacularly blown
out of proportion, but other public writing simply informs citizens of a substantial issue that
deserves to be addressed. In this way, public writing is a wonderful tool for anyone to get their
information out to the world.
Public writing seeks to bring information to an audience with as many people as possible.
The purpose of public writing from graffiti to news stories on CNN, is to make people aware of
something that you as a writer feel is an important issue. Your goal as a public writer is to write
an unbiased and comprehensively objective report of a situation. When you take one side, you
become biased, and lose some of your credibility. When writing for the public, you need to be
objective to try and sort out the facts for your audience.

Benjamin Falvey
September 18, 2014
Prof. Portman-Daley
WRT 303: Public Writing
Works Cited
"Counts Start in Scottish Referendum." BBC News. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.
Shamoon, Linda. Public Writing. 2014 ed. Vol. Fall. Kingston: URI, 2014. Print.
Smith-Spark, Laura, Nic Robertson Reported from Glasgow, Laura Smith-Spark Wrote,
Reported in London. Richard Allen Greene, and Greg Botelho. "Polls Close as
Scotland's Voters Make Their Choice in Independence Referendum." CNN. Cable
News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.