Monday, January 31, 2005

Non-reading future journalists

We all like to lament how our students don't read, especially newspapers. A column by Laura Berman of the Detroit News puts a new spin on that, however -- budding columnists who don't read even the columns.

Berman relates from a classroom at the University of Michigan-Dearborn:
"My generation is very visually oriented," explains Ryan Schreiber, a U-M Dearborn junior from Dearborn who -- like most in the class -- is majoring in journalism but doesn't read much of it.
"My generation grew up watching MTV. We are used to short spurts of words, lots of images...We're used to immediate gratification." He points out that columns like this one are blocks of text, decorated only with a thumbnail photo and a headline. No dancing images, no colorful pop-ups, no audio. Words on paper. Blah.
The kicker, however, is Berman's observation:
What's intriguing is that these kids say they plan to write for newspapers and magazines. They're planning journalism careers. They're dreaming of careers creating products nobody they know uses much.
But Schreiber's generation has seen enough movies and TV shows that depicted enough exciting newsroom scenes to make journalism seem enticing, even glamorous.
What happens when they get there and find out it isn't so?
Will they make up the glitz? Were Jayson Blair et al. the first wave of this?

Yet another ethics discussion.

And while we're at it, a depressing story from USA Today Weekend about how relatively little high school students value the First Amendment. Among the stats: 36 percent think newspapers should have government approval to publish.


At 2/1/05, 9:29 AM, Blogger David said...

Since the survey was of high school students, perhaps this reflects the world they live in where high school journalists are subjected to censorship by principals and teachers (unlike their older brothers and sisters at state-supported colleges and universities where First Amendment freedom is more secure). The worry is that our schools (elementary and high school) really aren't promoting free speech as a valued measure of American freedom.

At 2/2/05, 6:10 PM, Blogger Doug Fisher said...


Indeed. Good observation. Which makes it even more critical that we start explaining early and often what we do, why and how we do it, and the importance of the First Amendment even beyond journalism. We too often have sat back and taken our privileged status as a sincure. We are finding out the franchise is a fragile one.

At 4/20/05, 4:11 PM, Anonymous Ryan Schreiber said...


I'd like to quickly respond to the comments you and others have made about my quotes in the Detroit News article. Actually, I would rather you and your website visitors refer to an editorial myself and the rest of The Michiagn Journal e-board members wrote in response to Berman's semi-ficticious column.


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