A Question of Write and Wrong

A question I get asked a lot is

"Why journalism school?"

And in these times, that's a good question.

The common refrain among so many people for the past few years has been to extol the democratization of publishing thanks to the Internet. And to an unimaginable extent, this is a correct sentiment. Websites are getting easier to set up, discussion groups are getting easier to get involved with, and any number of blog hosting sites are making it possible for pretty much anyone - anyone - to be a published author.

In a theoretical light, these are all very very good things indeed. Theoretically, people have options when it comes to getting their information after so many years of having it filtered through subsidiaries of arms contractors and family-entertainment media conglomerates. The guy coming out of the prestigious j-school and the guy down the street are suddenly equals. Theoretically, the news is back in the hands of the people.

Gives new meaning to the phrase "free press," doesn't it?

The downside of all this is that suddenly there is a lot of room for a lot of really bad and really pointless material to see the light of day. For every Daily Kos or Maddox at work out there, there are a million other people whose contribution to the written culture is some inane blurb about how tired they are or what they bought at the supermarket today.


All filler aside, the bigger problem is the dilution of information and the lack of both accountability and personal experience. No one talks about what they think or what they did or what they saw, but rather what they read or watched. Site upon blog upon newsletter is nothing more than links to other sites and other blogs and other newsletters.

No one's a reporter or a commentator anymore, the world's literate masses instead reduced to one borderless nation of critics and finger-pointers.


So why journalism school?

Besides the obvious answer of "I want to write for a living," there's this thing called professional legitimacy that anyone worth their salt should be striving for in what they do. Leaving a software design job, a person has about as much chance of getting hired as a staff writer as they do of being hired as a surgeon: what would ever make someone accept you as qualified?

"Just start a blog dude."

I did. But what so many people don't think about is that blogs, for the most part and for the time being, are a hack's medium. I'm not saying there aren't some great ones out there, because if that were the case I doubt the platform could've become this popular solely on the strength of so many people enjoying hearing themselves speak. It takes little talent and even less material to do it; some of us want to aim a little higher.

Some of us want to get out there and live to tell the tale.

What you see here is the byproduct. The practice space. The on-deck circle.

A place for a man to empty out his big, loud mouth. Which, if you think about it, is kind of the point.