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Archive for December, 2014

Okay, this was too good not to post: a Loki music video set to “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen. You know you want to watch …..

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And now some light amusement for the holidays. First up, “I’m Gettin’ Nuttin’ for Christmas”, a favorite of mine.

Next an ode to fruitcakes, “Miss Fogarty’s Christmas Cake”.

And finally a little firewater to settle the stomach with “Whiskey is the Life of Man”.

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Recently, I received a letter from my alma mater’s journalism department where, 26 years ago, I received my bachelor’s degree in Journalism (Print). Like university journalism programs across the country, my old J-B (Journalism & Broadcasting) Dept. has experienced a drop in enrollment and now finds itself on the budgetary chopping block. The purpose of the letter was to ask for my support. How, they wanted to know, had being a journalism major helped me to succeed in my career?

I can honestly say that, while it hasn’t been a drawback, that particular degree hasn’t helped me up the ladder of success. I don’t blame the J-B department for that. I went into journalism because I liked to write. Back then, if you hoped to write for a living, there were only two choices: fiction writing (chancy) or news-writing (not as glamorous, but more likely to have a steady paycheck).

The world that I graduated into as an aspiring news-writer was very different from the world journalists inhabit today. While the bones of journalism haven’t changed (who, what, when, where, why, and how, check your facts, spell the names correctly, and get your piece in by the deadline), the media world today is undergoing a technological sea change comparable to the invention of the printing press.  When I graduated, there was no Internet, no websites, no social media, and no blogs. No one of my acquaintance owned a cell phone or even knew what one was. Nobody had a laptop. We J-B students fought over the MacIntosh SEs in a converted office that was called the computer lab–a lab so cold in the winter that we worked bundled up to the nines. Nobody had a digital camera. We shot black and white pictures with actual film that we developed in a pitch black photo studio. At night, we would tack back to the dorm, loopy from hours of sniffing Dektol (a developing chemical) in the lab.

No story that my classmates and I churned out ever freed anybody from death row or got picked up by the national press. Much like the papers of the day, the news-writing classes we took demanded that we work 24/7 for little or no reward. The true journalistas among us failed or took incompletes in their other classes in order to spend their time working on the student newspaper. I had a scholarship that required me to keep a certain GPA so blowing off my other classes was not an option. In addition, I didn’t have a car or a private phone line so my reporting was confined to campus. The stories I wrote were at best okay and more often mediocre.

By the end of my four years, I was burned out on journalism, but had no idea of what else I wanted to do. A chance decision to volunteer at the local public library dropped me into a career in librarianship and I’ve been happily employed as a librarian ever since.

If I could do it over again, would I still have majored in journalism? Probably. Not because it’s been that useful to me, but because we can’t truly know or prepare for the future. And there’s the crux of the problem for today’s journalism departments: how can they train the next generation of journalists when the field is so wildly in flux that no one really knows what skills future journalists are going to need?

 

 

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Sign posted on outside door of malfunctioning, but still serviceable elevator at the University of Arnor Library:

Lights in elevator not working, beware of haunted house feel.

Inside the darkened elevator: a flashlight balanced on the handrail.

This is what budget cuts have done to us, people.

 

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