Last week, I found myself in a fascinating discussion on SayAnything regarding what kind of person is qualified to call himself a journalist, and under what conditions that person may operate. As the husband of a fine lady with a journalism degree, and as the great-nephew of a fairly prominent journalist, it's a subject that means a bit to me.
Kenny died before the Internet became big, but I wonder what he'd think of the state of his profession today. Certainly he knew that television was making inroads, but I'd guess he'd be appalled to see, for example, what's become of the Minneapolis Star and the Minneapolis Tribune.
What's to blame? My take is that it's become too much of a "profession," just like teaching. Where it was once sufficient to have curiousity, writing skill, and the willingness to work odd hours, now it seems that one generally needs a journalism education (the kind Ernie Pyle mocked) and the willingness to interact with an immense bureaucracy.
In other words, the profession has been redesigned to stifle the very creativity that needed to be a decent journalist. I wish it were the only profession so stifled, but sad to say, that's not true.
PS. It probably also doesn't help that my wife's journalism law textbook doesn't even member the Peter Zenger case--and this at a "good" journalism school, Michigan State.
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