Thursday, January 31, 2013

I Am An Anachronism

A hundred years ago when I went to college, I majored in journalism because I wanted a practical, always-in-demand career and I didn't want to be a teacher or a nurse. Journalism was perfect because I liked to write and newspapers had been around for hundreds of years. This industry wasn't a flash-in-the-pan fad such as television or radio.

Fast-forward to when Boy#1 was deciding a college major. He was the best writer I knew (still is) but he wanted to major in political science because that was what he loved.

"Don't be silly," I told him. "Major in journalism, then cover politics. What in the world would you do with a major in political science?"

His college didn't have a journalism major, though, so he stuck with his choice of major and his political science degree was good preparation for law school. The advice I had been pushing so vigorously could not have been more wrong if I had been suggesting he become a veterinarian specializing in dinosaurs.

Today I heard that one of our public state universities will no longer publish a newspaper due to lack of funding and that made me feel as old as the hills. My professional training now seems quaint, as if I had set out to become a wheelwright or a telegraph operator.

It made me sad, too, because now students at that school are unlikely to learn the skills they would have learned by working on a newspaper: How to meet deadlines. The art of writing to fit a space, one that usually is either smaller or larger than what you had intended. That a story in which you have invested heart and soul can be bumped off the front page by a puppy stuck in a storm drain. That you can't make everyone happy, but you must be fair.

These students won't recognize the adrenaline rush that goes with getting a story just right and on time, or the satisfaction of knowing that they were a link in the chain of truth.

I know, I know. Today the internet fills any need for news we might have. Social media instantaneously tells us what happened (sometimes before it has finished happening), and the "slow" media is television. No one is going to miss newspapers in a few years, when there aren't any left.

But something important will be gone from our lives when the extinction of this dinosaur is complete, and I will miss it.

1 comment:

  1. I was afraid to open the post for fear it was our beloved alma mater. Glad it wasn't, but I too mourn the loss of a school paper. You are right - the students will lose so many skills that would have set them apart in what ever field they choose. While I haven't been directly involved in JMC for years, the skills I learned have helped me in so many ways. And to hear that it was completely taken out of the academic program . . . wow!
    I know we have to advance with technology, but . . . ouch it hurts and I'll miss it with you!