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It’s all the fault of us college teachers

Well, maybe not all, but look at the state of reporting now. From Jennifer Rubin [1], one of the best, quoting another one:

Journalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen observes that “the incremental coverage, the focus on the inside game, the notion of tactics and strategy, and the joining up of the political class with the information junkies” does little to inform voters about major pieces of legislation. We get nonstop coverage of the “sausage making” but little about the content of bills that cost trillions.

And I just keep flashing back to teaching basic biology to all kinds of pre-med hopefuls way back in the Stone Ages. We’d joke about how the students who did not remotely have what it takes should “go into journalism.” (Not in front of the students, it should go without saying. Just when us teaching assistants were trying to preserve sanity after grading endless bafflegab lab reports.)

I’d be willing to bet they made the same jokes in history departments. And performing arts. And accounting.

Because, really, from the outside, journalism (subsequently “Communications”) looked like the one field where you could get through on bullshit alone.

We were wrong, of course.

It’s obvious now that actual journalism takes analytical ability, perseverance, and a rare willingness to be disliked.

But the BS artists drifted to Communications, too many of them squeaked through, used their flimflam successfully in the job market and the promotion ladder, and here we are. Days of discussion about people’s suits (tan?, pants!, blue). Weeks of discussion whether A insulted B. Were there corn dogs or pizza? Was the pizza eaten correctly? Constant focus on elimination brackets, mostly in fantasy playoffs. Meanwhile, the fate of the humanity hinges on understanding the climate crisis and how juvenile fascism grows up.

It all shares one thing. (Two things, actually. One being easy clicks which is vital to for-profit “news.”) None of it requires any actual knowledge. You have your article/newscast/whatever ready to go after skimming TV or twitter feeds, and no need to sprain your brain. And we, by not having the heart to bounce these yoyos out of college entirely, enabled that mess.

2 Comments (Open | Close)

2 Comments To "It’s all the fault of us college teachers"

#1 Comment By NW Luna On 22 Nov, 2021 @ 15:59

I think much of the problem is not the journalists but their editors, who bow to the CEO and Board of Directors, and have their eyes focused on the prize of $$$. The recent and non-wokeist BBC series on the trans issue (forget its name due to (a) cognitive decline or (b) information overload) was said to be in the works for nearly a year before given the go-ahead by management.

Unfortunately the journalists who experience this continuing editorial control learn to self-censor themselves.

#2 Comment By quixote On 25 Nov, 2021 @ 13:07

Good point. Editors pretty much determine whether journalists can get ahead or not, don’t they? And the bosses determine how the editors do. Incentive structure in two steps…