Eclectic Curiosity

Posted on September 13th, 2003, by Steve Hardy in Archives, Uncategorized. No Comments

A rant against the current state of journalism and the specialty dished up at today’s journalism schools, by the former Saturday Night magazine editor-in-chief John Fraser in his 1994 collection of selected diaries Saturday Night Lives!

Some time ago in the dim, dark past of the history of journalism – about the time Richard Nixon and his U.S. presidency were on the ropes over the Watergate scandal – the avocation of reporting, a hitherto modest craft that was the last safe redoubt of the generalist, took on cultic overtones, complete with priestly practitioners. However honourable were the intentions of the two mighty journalists at The Washington Post who broke and sustained the Watergate story, they have nevertheless spawned several generations of second- and third-rate Carl Bernsteins and Bob Woodwards. We’ve been paying the price ever since in the demolition of respect for public institutions, in the declining quality of our political leaders, and in the stultifying cynicism of a public that now needs to be mainlined with any old trashy exposé in increasingly frequent and deadly doses. If old-fashioned journalism can fairly be accused of too often ignoring political cupidity and ethical malefactions, new-style journalism is far more guilty of manufacturing scandal and human failure out of innuendo, out of suspicion, and – often enough – out of thin air. …

What I would really like to do is eliminate the whole lot [journalism schools], take the budding journalists by their collars and pants, and force march them into literature courses, philosophy courses, psychology courses, political science courses, law courses, theology courses, even basket-weaving courses – anything that would keep them away from Journalism 100.

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