QotD: First Drafts of History and Such…

A friend of mine also happens to be a professor of communications, and part of her gig means that she teaches folks with an interest in journalism — a field in which she has actually worked. Along the way, she includes quizzes on current events as a regular feature of her classes. This occasionally leaves her students a bit bumfuzzled, but one would think that in order to be a journalist, one might want at least a passing acquaintance with the world one might cover.

Perhaps one is overly optimistic.

Ms. Hemingway’s article includes a passage I think should be tattooed on the inside of the eyelids of young journalists, so that they may see it each time they blink. So here’s the QotD:

[A] certain humility is in order when your line of work requires neither a G.E.D. nor any particular expertise.

In a way, I think it’s kind of like Frank Zappa’s description of a decline in popular music. There was much more room for experimentation in rock, he argued, when the record companies were run by folks who knew they had no clue about what made good rock and roll. Because they had no clue, they’d sign all sorts of bands, because who knew what might take off? However, when younger people, who believed they knew what was “cool”, took over, they imposed their far narrower visions on the bands they would sign.

In far too much of contemporary journalism, the practitioners are people so confident they know what’s cool (Spoiler: It’s them.) that they see no need either to look outside their comfort zone or (more importantly) to augment that zone with some actual knowledge.

I wish my friend luck — what she’s doing matters. But looking at where things are now, the odds seem longer every day.

A tip of the Mondo Mortarboard to Ace at the HQ.


About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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