Sunday, May 1, 2011

Is Journalism School Pointless?

Mike MetroulasPosted by Mike Metroulas May 1st 2011 at 5:42 am in Mainstream Media, media bias

From Columbia University’s Journalism School’s website, a statement of their purpose for training journalists:
finding out the truth of complicated situations, usually under a time constraint, and communicating it in a clear, engaging fashion to the public.
Similar rhetoric from NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute:
Serious journalism begins with an ideal of public service, a commitment to truth, accuracy and fairness, and a belief that democracy can work if people know what is happening in their world.
Sounds wonderful… but think twice about attending these schools, at least as a lucrative career choice.

I’d argue that a journalism degree is not necessary to be a member of today’s American mainstream media; all you seem to need is a willingness to chug lefty Kool Aid faster than Frank the Tank pounds beer bongs full of crappy, American adjunct lager. This means an obsession with class, race, gender, and a progressive world view. Legitimate issues?  Of course they are, and ones I’m often interested in as fields of study, but when the issues become tied with political aspirations long after the state has done everything possible to address them, an incessant focus on past injustices becomes not only counter productive but also transparently political… mere grabs for the keys to the government in order to effect social change.

If that’s indeed what the American dinosaur media is, good riddance.

Regarding truth: as you see it? It’s like George Costanza thinking he wasn’t bald any longer because he got that “little hair hat”…  People are seeking different versions of the truth online these days. Sure, some people were (and are) perfectly content with what the dinosaur media was selling. Others jumped ship in favor of different perspectives. These guys never went to J-school. We should all feel lucky that the dominance of the dinosaur media has been weakened. Diversity, baby! We all win.

If we ever get misty-eyed thinking of days gone by, we can always tune in to MSNBC to hear Chris Matthews or Lawrence O’Donnell accuse someone of racism or belittle a Republican. That should assuage our sentimentality.

The traditional media has been hit with a double whammy: the rise of bloggers and compromised credibility. From Dan Rather’s gaffe on George W. Bush to the incessant water carrying of all things Democrat, the old school media has pushed many Americans to find alternatives. The citizen journalism right here at Big J and many other places are prime examples of this wonderful development.

While none of us should celebrate less professional opportunities for students of journalism, on principle we should celebrate what a shrinking mainstream media means for our republic.

One of the cornerstones of the First Amendment is the quest for truth via an open marketplace of ideas. I propose that putting information out there is the focus of true journalism, not wanting to effect social change via your journalistic efforts. Too many in the mainstream media don’t seem to agree. In the rare instance when we do hear something positive about the American right, we get the sense that it’s only being offered in an attempt to appear fair and not out of a genuine commitment to journalistic integrity. The general right wing view regarding tradeoffs is every bit as legitimate as the lefty view of power relations  and victimhood. A free society deserves all sides of the story.

All believers of truth and free speech should embrace the rise of the blogosphere.

Big Journalism