Our society has become one massive trend. That may scare you, it may not. Unfortunately, most people see a trend of learning, clothing, entertainment, or lifestyle and either a) recognize that it is something they’ve seen before and criticize it for that fact or b) fail to recognize that they’re taking in or putting out vomited material that has already been eaten, badly digested and then forced back out through the mouths of unoriginals. Yeah, that just about sums up the world we live in.
Recently, however, journalism – and the study of such – has come under scrutiny as well, not only being a major producer in the lack of innovation, but a subject that teaches the very thing that most people shudder at: the story they’ve heard before. In the article This week’s 4 arguments against j-school, the topic of Journalism being an unnecessary school of higher education comes into the spotlight. As the title suggest, there are four major items under consideration as to why Journalism is a dying topic.
The first of these points is that “everyone is an editor in chief.” A valid point, seeing as how one of the basic courses that is required of collegiate studies is Composition, usually two course, specializing in grammar, style, structure, and a whole load of nonsense that most Journalists have to disregard anyways in order to cater to the Fourth grade reading level that a good percentage of Americans stagnate at. Editors are like table salt because everyone knows how to do it. Science majors, engineers, artists, you name it, they write it. So walking into a firm with the degree that says, “Hey, I got a piece of paper that says I can do … what any other college student can do” isn’t all that impressive. You need to be able to slap something on the desk of the interviewer that not only sets you apart, but gives you room to walk out of his office saying “screw yourself, I’ll go invent the next iPhone.”
Next is the ridiculous amount of money that you pour into learning how to regurgitate. Isn’t that all a Journalism school can ultimately teach you? How to throw up a story in a manner that makes it look like tomato soup instead of vomit? Regardless, you will walk out of the school with a surplus of debt, unless daddy is a big-timer who has connections, in which case, why did you major in Journalism? You could’ve majored in philosophy, written a few interesting blogs on “to be or not to be” and had daddy get you a job. But the majority, as I digress, will leave with 30,000 hanging above their head with the hopes that they have a style, which wasn’t taught in school by the way, that’ll get a few firms to give a damn.
And then there’s the issue of “journalism being a lot like Driver’s Ed.” Passing doesn’t make you a good driver. It’s more or less a slap on the back saying that if you wreck, oh well, get back in the car and drive again; this time don’t run the god damn red light. Writing is very similar. You’re going to roll a few stop signs here and there, bang up a few articles, completely miss a story or two, but you have to keep on keeping on (as cliche’s would say) and perseverance will ultimately be what justified you as a good story teller, not a degree that says you should be a good story teller.
And lastly, knowing how to write well is all good and well, but knowing how to read well is better. Most college kids don’t get that, because hey, who reads these days? If I go to sit on the stool with my iPad, I’m not going to be perusing through the NY Times app. No, I’m probably going to be throwing down in a game of angry birds while I continue to believe that I crap out decent stories. The ratio of good information that you take in is directly proportionate to the amount of good information you put out – and college doesn’t exactly create a desire to read. I’d actually go as far as to say that it makes you dread reading and makes you worse at it, because you learn to look for vocabulary words, things that will be on the test, and stupid stuff that lies in the periphery of what is actually being said.
Though education is always a good thing, journalism is a subject that is probably best taught. Because out of self-revelation, comes originality.