Monday, June 07, 2010

If it weren't real,

this would be hilarious. Evidently a Republican lawmaker from Michigan is endorsing the idea of licensing journalists, making sure that they have journalism degrees (or "equivalent experience"), "good moral character," and requires three years of journalism experience to be given a license to practice journalism.

My favorite, of course, is the "catch 22" situation of requiring journalism experience to get journalism experience, but the other two are hilarious, too. When he was alive, my great uncle told my relatives and I about some of the parties he attended with greats like Ernie Pyle; suffice it to say that in today's world, the cigar and whiskey filled newsrooms would not yield too many people who could meet the "good moral character" test unless they were grading on a seriously generous curve. (on the bright side, it might send Ms. "Send them back to Auschwitz" Helen Thomas to a well deserved retirement....)

It's also worth noting that few of the great journalists of old actually had a degree in the same--including my uncle, Pyle, Pulitzer, and Peter Zenger. Back in the day, one learned the trade when editors realized a young man could write--whether or not the prospective reporter had a real degree (as opposed to a journalism degree) from a college or not.

In other words, too many today think that good quality press can be regulated. One would think that the history of Pravda and other state controlled media would disabuse us of this idea, but apparently not.


Night Writer said...

A State that can license you can also take your license if it doesn't like you. Not that it ever would, of course.

pentamom said...

Not knowing the background here, I'm guessing the guy is just trying to make a statement: the modern fashion is for journalists to set themselves up as the arbiters of everyone and everything, from morality to competence to who knows what, so shouldn't they have to be held to some kind of standard as well?

Well, no, not in this fashion, but there is a rhetorical point to be made here, at least.

Bike Bubba said...

Real story, and I'd be tempted to cut the guy some slack except for the fact that he's a lawmaker pledged to uphold the 1st Amendment.

I'm glad to hold journalists to those standards myself, of course--I did a few years back for the Minneapolis Red Star-Tribune by stopping my subscription. We don't need government to do that....

pentamom said...

Oh, I know, he's pledged to uphold the First Amendment, and therefore, this is definitely inappropriate. I'm not justifying it as a tactic.

I'm just saying that I can understand if the frustration arises from the non-accountability of journalists (which is a First Amendment necessity, but IS still pretty frustrating at times); if it really arises from wanting to "control" them for some other reason, it's worse.