Monday, July 25, 2005

This Guy Has A Big Pen

When you put a bunch of Deans of J Schools like Harvard, Columbia, UC Berkeley, Northwestern Medill and USC Annenberg together on a project (The Carnegie-Knight Initiative) to slap journalism schools into shape, add Jay Rosen from NYU to the mix, you not only get great ideas about new ways to teach journalism, but FINE WRITING as they debate the thing.

Check out what Orville Schell from Berkeley has to say, this boy can write. You gotta love a guy that uses the verb "ginned up" and the adjective "chiliastic" in the same sentence. He's got a big pen. Made me weak in the knees.
But, in reading your blog entry, the larger question you address is not so much whether we as the founding schools of the Carnegie-Knight Initiative have anointed ourselves as “priests,” but whether the whole last few decades of journalism have not been ginned up on an almost chiliastic vision of a second journalistic coming in the trans-substantiated form of Carl and Bob.

I take your point about the need for a healthy skepticism about heroes of all sorts who invariably get delaminated from the contexts in which they arise as well as from those others who sustain them. They are often turned into larger than life figures, albeit, with a few toes of clay. But, let’s be honest. There is something about every fraternity, profession, and even society, that does seem to need to lionize and mythologize certain people so that they become iconic hood ornaments. I have just finished reading the Odyssey and the Iliad again, and despite all the mortal flaws of these Homeric heroes – and Greece was the birthplace of western heroes and hero-worship -people seemed to need heroes and to be inspired by them.

And was I the only one who noticed all these prestigious deans of J schools are ... what do you call them again ... oh yeah ... men? Maybe the Carnegie Knight Initiative might think about that for a few minutes. High time for some priestesses I think.

Another man, a TV news guy named Terry Heaton comments:
It is both my experience and my sincere belief that young people do not get into the news business these days to make a difference. I've written about this many times, but the nut of it is that 95% of the budding journalists I interviewed for jobs in the latter days of my TV news career wanted into the business for celebrity. It was rare to encounter someone who genuinely wanted to make a difference, and when I did, I hired them immediately. The people who are armed with this passion today are found in the local blogospheres around the country (and the world).

Secondly, the real mission of this collaboration is institutional self-preservation, and that's understandable. I do wish these priests would be a little more forthcoming about it, however, because it would inject a little honesty into the proceedings. Research projects nothwithstanding, I just don't see how a gathering of the highest of the high priests accomplishes anything more than a masturbatory release.