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TEACHER’S PET: Today I Saw The Future

welles.thumbnail.gifFROM THE EDITOR: Today I saw the future — and it looked at me like a dog shown a card trick. I was invited to speak to the kids in George Miller’s journalism class at Temple about New Media. I said yes, of course, because I believe the children are our future, and that the future’s uncertain and the end is always near. I told the kids that majoring in journalism was their first mistake. They laughed. I’m not kidding, I said, you can learn everything you need in a single Journalism 101 course and six months of interning at a newspaper. Go learn something else, something useful, and bring that expertise back to journalism. And don’t expect somebody at some college to teach you how to write — it simply can’t be taught. Either you’re a Jedi or you are not. You are all here today because somebody along the way recognized some verbal aptitude in you, I said. But what you do with it is allteacher.gif on you. It’s like a muscle — it needs to push against something immovable in order to grow, it needs impossible challenges, rigorous discipline and the wisdom garnered by repetitive failure. All the learning is in the doing. So just do it, I said, and don’t expect anything for it. If you are expecting something for your trouble you are in the wrong game. Become a lawyer or a doctor, or better yet learn Farsi and go work for the CIA or the State Department and the world will be your oyster. When I was your age, I said, people said “learn computers, it’s the future.” To you I say: Learn Arabic, it’s the future. Oh, and use sunscreen. Then we opened it up to questions. “Why do you have an ADVERTISE ON PHAWKER sign but there are no ads?” one kid asked. “I don’t know, why didn’t your parents love you more?” I shot back. “Do you read Philebrity?” somebody else wanted to know. “No,” I said, “It’s like looking at naked pictures of your ex-girlfriend, and nothing good can come from that.” “What are you trying to accomplish with Phawker?” asked another. The end of media as we currently know it, I said. Mercifully, that seems to be taking care of itself.

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22 Responses to “TEACHER’S PET: Today I Saw The Future”

  1. Alexandra Says:

    thanks for your words of wisdom today. they brought a nice change of pace, and certainly woke a few of us up from our in-class dozings. now i don’t feel so left out for not majoring in journalism.

    [Glad to hear it, Alexandra. –The Ed.]

  2. deeney Says:

    Since when do college kids go to class on 81 degree late-October days? Doesn’t anyone do drugs any more?

  3. Abby Says:

    I was in that class today and was one of the few who didn’t laugh. Well, actually I did. Because as a soon-to-be former journalism major/Political Science minor, I was recently told to switch my major and minor. My Honors advisor was almost directly quoted. “Learn something useful because your writing skills will always be there. People will want to hear from experts in a particular field, not really good writers who don’t know anything.” Well, it is always good to be re-assured by a journalist who didn’t actual major in his craft. I think you should come back and speak to us again.

  4. Th'Editrix Says:

    Wait, I want to see naked pics of someone’s ex-girlfriend!

  5. Ben Says:

    I was also in the class today and I thoroughly enjoyed your short talk. I must admit that I laughed. In my mind, it was not because the concept you had presented was in any way ludicrous but because of the sheer absurdity of the situation and your absolute subversion of George’s intentions with the class. It seems that he is constantly reminding us that we need to major in journalism to be a journalist of any type. He specifically called out Ted Koppel for making similar statements. I am not a journalism major, in fact I’m not an anything major, but I think that both of you have a point. George wants journalism majors out there because he has consistently seen people spoil the integrity of the craft that he loves. He wants the world’s journalist to be aware of the social and ethical implications of their profession. On the other hand, one cannot necessarily be taught to have a respect for the truth.

    Thanks for coming and I hope that you’ve not lost all hope for the future of your field.

  6. deeney Says:

    Yeeeeaaaah, where them titty pics is at, Valania?!

    In all seriousness, because this college shit is serious business, please for god’s sake don’t spend your time as an undergrad learning something useful. Learn how to think. Grad school is for learning something useful, if you should decide that life necessitates it. Then again, I went to college somewhere that doesn’t even have pre-professional majors, and still models its curriculum on the middle ages. And you know what I learned how to do there? Drugs.

    Nevermind, listen to your honors advisor.

  7. Megan G. Says:

    I was also in the class today. I loved the lecture, because as a communications major in journalism classes, it was refreshing to hear. Journalism is SO competitive, and I agree that you need to be better well rounded. And if you are a good writer, then you will go far, but if your not….well then your not. Also, with the convergence of media you really need to know how all the different mediums work and work together. I would love to see you come back again and speak as well.

  8. jacqui Says:

    thank you for speaking in our class today. you may have been late but you were much better than the other guy. i’m definitely considering switching majors .. and maybe getting an internship with Phawker?

  9. greg Says:

    i was there for that 20 minute advising session today. i am also now much more confused than before. this site makes contemporary issues fun. those issues however seem to be r5 productions and other urban-y b.s oh well, atleast people read it

  10. Lisa Says:

    I loved your speech today. I actually am one of the kids majoring in journalism, but I want to be a photojournalist, its my passion. So I am screwed. Ha.

    Thanks again.

  11. Kate Albin Says:

    I really enjoyed your argument today and thought that it was rather refreshing from the set lecture we recieve from day to day. I do believe that writing can’t be taught, but just the concept that writing can’t be taught artistically. Just conventionally.

    Like I said, I did like what you had to say today, but maybe if you showed up on time and didn’t refer to us students as “a dog shown a card trick”, I would’ve been more convinced.

    So I’m going to keep my photojournalism/art history major and keep the mindset that it will take me somewhere instead of thinking that I’m just wasting my time.

    [You go, girl! Just don’t let your sense of entitlement talk you out of things you shouldn’t miss. It’s all I ask. Art history is a GREAT major for a journalist. Seriously. And a photojournalism major is exempted from my comments — I was referring more to the writing side of things. Plus, best I can tell, with a photojournalism major, all the learning is in the doing. So, for what it’s worth, I wasn’t talking to you when I called your classmates a dog shown a card trick. Good luck. –The Ed.]

  12. Kathleen Says:

    What you said today in class really got to me (in a good way). It’s really nice to see and hear from someone who has gone out and created something like Phawker successfully, rather than just talking about it.

    I’m inspired.

  13. Eva Says:

    Kids, don’t listen to a word he says. The guy is full of shit. I can say that with certainty. He taught me everything I knows. Erm, I mean know.

  14. Kylee Says:

    just like writing is a talent, school is school.
    we have the prior knowledge in our heads, it’s just a matter of learning to control it and what to do with it. school teaches us how to use our talent correctly without looking like a moron in most cases.

    census also says that you never said “Why didn’t your parents love you more?”
    there’s no need to attack an audience in order to influence it.

    however, i found you to be very entertaining and well spoken. you carry yourself well. definitely a music man.

    p.s. – try not to say “I said” so much. Didn’t you learn this in school? :)

  15. Th'Editrix Says:

    OK not to crash the Boss’s party, but I should be the one carrying the banner for J-school here. A journalism degree is neither bad nor unnecessary, but it is not essential. What IS essential is learning the basics of reporting and writing, the mechanics of it all, either by taking classes OR getting published and, preferably, BOTH.

    You guys who are in school now are fortunate in that the explosion of DIY media has created any number of venues in which you can get published. Just try to make sure some of it is real reporting, not just top-of-your-head creative writing bloggery.

    Whatever you do, do NOT go straight to grad school and then try to go out into the job world without ever having written for publication. Nobody likes someone with a Columbia degree and no actual experience.

    Now go fuck shit up, kids.

    PSU ’94 Journ

  16. Shannon Spillman Says:

    Thank you for speaking in class yesterday, it really was refreshing. I don’t even remember anything the other guy was saying, but I remembered every word that you said. And I’m pretty sure we all laughed at your words because of the irony of it all, George being so for Journalism and all. I can see both points of view, and I have to say that it really depends on the person. Because let’s face it, some people aren’t the brightest. But, like many people said, good writing can’t be taught–but, why does so much bad writing get published?!

  17. Robin Says:

    I don’t really know if you have to right to just tell kids to switch their majors. As you say, the world of journalism is changing, maybe a degree in journalism will be worth more in the future, and I’m sure it can’t hurt now. I love to talk about sports and write about it. Why should I give up my passion in school and learn about boring statistics or accounting? I’m a little upset about your approach with our class. I doubt George would have invited you if all you were planning to do was bash our major, and him for that matter, for teaching it.

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