From the News Editor

What Is (and Isn't) News?

By Corey Wick

It seems only appropriate that a journal named after kairos contains a section devoted to news. The word kairos deals with occasion, roughly the right time, right place, the right opportunity to construct an argument. In this respect, wouldn't everything published in Kairos  fall under the heading of news? My editorial colleagues, on more than one occasion, have answered this question with a resounding "NO." They seem to agree that I think everything in Kairos  is news, yet disagree with my rationale for belivieving so.

While this is an interesting issue in itself, I consider it a symptom of a larger concern: the problematic nature of the Kairos  news section. News travels faster in the medium of computer-mediated communication than perhaps any other, so "reporting" news in the traditional sense is not an effective strategy for a hypertextual journal published three times per year. Many important events have occured since the January publication of Kairos  1.1, and to simply "report" them would be redundant at best. In this respect, the kairos (meaning time, place, occasion) is obviously not right.

But in another sense, the Kairos  is right.

Consider Eric Charles White's (1987) definition of kairos in Kaironomia: On the Will-to-Invent :

[Kairos] discovers in every new occasion a unique opportunity to confer meaning on the world . . . kairos stands for a radical principle of occasionality which implies a conception of the production of meaning in language as a process of continuous adjuctment to and creation of the present occasion, or a process of continuous interpretation (p. 14).
The Kairos  news section, like the journal itself, is definitely a process of adjustment and continuouous interpretation. The junction of this burgeoning hypertextual, intertextual media with the traditional conception of news mandates a divergence from the traditional approach.

But Kairos  is a journal that deals with the malleability of knowledge. Indeed, the very nature of hypertext invites constant revision. We consider our articles and features to be works in progress, not finished products. Why should we treat news any differently? While past events do not change, interpretations of these events and their importance inevitably do, and I see the future of the Kairos news section dealing not with reporting news, but the process of its continuous interpretation.

Earlier this semester I was discussing with Nick Carbone prospective approaches to covering what eventually became Nick and Ted's Excellent Eventure. Bound by the paradigm of traditional journalism, I asked Nick if we should solicit additional reporters, and he responded "great--with any luck we won't agree too much and there'll be some tension to the piece." This brief discussion spawned an approach to news coverage I plan to explore as Kairos  continues to evolve, adjust, and reinterpret the meaning of news events. I'd like to see Kairos  cover issues not only in more detail, but from a variety of perspectives as well, making the tension Nick was seeking a recurring ingredient of Kairos  news.

I hope this "perspectives" approach will be a fresh alternative to reports suggesting coherence, clarity, and closure, In effect, I'd like to see the news section grow not more unified, but less. I think we will gain valuable insight by presenting issues as a jangled web of facts, interpretations, and opinions, with an inviting link that says "click here to add your comments to our discussion." With any luck, we won't agree too much.

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    KAIROS Kairos: A Journal for Teachers of Writing in Webbed Environments.
    Vol. 1 No. 2 Spring 1996