Day 5: April 8, 2008
A new day, a new blog entry.
From now on, though, I intend to focus more on teacher/student interactions, which may be less fun, but probably more useful.
And I can't do that today, because we have a guest speaker! Doug McGill, who is this..... guy. He's the author of the McGill Report, which is (probably) a big deal. He was formally a reporter for the New York Time, which IS a big deal. And most importantly, he writes articles for the Rochester (MN) Post Bulletin! And that's a big deal because I live in Rochester at the moment. I can't imagine what it's like to go from the NYT to the Post Bulletin in Rochester, MN. I also can't imagine WHY you would do that.. Maybe he was drunk that day?
I'm feeling a discussion coming on, as he's already written some questions in big AND bold lettering in a Word document which I spied on the not-so subtle projector screen at the front of the room. Mmm... interaction is good. There's even a fair number of students here, today.
Yes! He says he's going to speak for 20 minutes and (the magic words) "open it up." Sweet!
Here we go. The reason why he accepted a job at the Post Bulletin. He grew up in Rochester. I knew there had to be a reason (other than liquor).
Ooh, he was also Bureau Chief at Bloomberg London (my home-home town). This guy has certainly been around.
OK. Depressing. He's talking about people being laid off, especially highly-paid, well-respected journalists, because of news stations trying to save money. That's the reason, it appears, why he moved back to Rochester; because he didn't see a future in NY. I'm so, so glad I don't want to be a reporter. Mind you, it's not exactly comforting to know that I got a degree in broadcast journalism and I don't want to be a broadcast journalist. But let's not make this about me...
Uh oh. It's the Power Talk. Be careful with power. Power makes rich people richer, and poor people poorer. He's telling a sobering story about the Anuak genocide in south-west Ethiopia, which leads to a question: How much weight do you give an "ear-witness?" Definitely an interesting question...
Alright! Questions opened to the floor, and as usual, the guy sitting behind me (whose name I don't really know), asks a question. It's a question on objectivity in journalism. Now, I don't know about you (whoever "you" may be), but this objectivity question has been done to death. Is there objectivity in journalism? I'm so glad McGill thinks of it as a "dead letter." Because it really is. Nobody is objective. It's a method, sure, but NOBODY is objective. There's no such thing as an objective article. But, as McGill is saying, you can TRY to be objective in the way you APPROACH your article.
I asked a question something along these lines:
"If citizens need good methodically objective news to be better citizens, surely a picture tells a thousand words. Then how do you balance sensitivity to the audience when discussing what pictures to print? Surely the discussion itself is as far from objective as is possible, since people are giving opinions based on their feeling - whether a picture should be printed?"
I got a round-about answer about the lack of true objectivity, so I suppose it's jut as I suspected. There is no "organic" objectivity in journalism.
Overall, this was a great speaker to have in class. A good, solid pick, and definitely some choice moments given for people to ask questions. Which, I'm glad to say, they did.
Class over: 12:30pm.