while reading this post:
Columbia University Graduate School of The Internet
Now, the post itself I think is very much on target about the need to train journalists properly for the brave new world of the internets. And while I suspect I know Mr. Rosenblum's political leanings, I don't know them for certain and they're tangential to my issue.
The school was founded by a rogue businessman, Joseph Pulitzer. He was the Rupert Murdoch of his day. He tried to expurgate his many sins by building the school. Instead, he compounded them. He succeeded in creating a factory for ‘good employees’, but he infantalized an entire industry.
The graduates of the school long to be good employees - to work for The New York Times or The Washington Post or NBC News or CNN...
The report on the Future of American Journalism was written by two lifetime employees. Leonard Downie Jr., spent a lifetime at The Washington Post, as an employee. He rose to be Executive Editor but he still got that weekly paycheck. Michael Schudson is a lifetime academic. He also has spent his life getting that printed paycheck every week.
Nice guys though they are, they are hardly the right people to ask to figure out the future of journalism. What they have been bred to do for a lifetime is to figure out where the next paycheck is going to come from. And that is what they came up with in their report. Pretty much devoid of any other ideas, they came up with ‘ask the goverment or some foundations to write more checks’.
I don't have an argument with his primary point, but I am wondering about this disdain for people collecting paychecks. This is not the first time I'm seeing this around - there was an episode of Miami Ink a while back with a young woman (flat out gorgeous, by the way) getting a tattoo of a robot to symbolize her father's "enslavement to corporate America". She was determined to avoid ever working a "real job." There are other examples.
What's bothering me is this idea that there's something wrong with going to a "regular job" and collecting a paycheck. Perhaps the world does need Joseph Pulitzers and Bill Paleys, but we can't all be at that level. None of the big time movers would ever have gotten anywhere without the paycheck collecting shmoes working for them. That's not exactly what journalism (or any field, except maybe Hollywood) needs - everybody's a CEO, nobody does the grunt work?
This bothers me more coming from liberals (as I suspect Mr. Rosenblum is) only because they pride themselves on their support for the working people of this nation. But sneering at people who collect paychecks is not terribly supportive. Would I like to be a chief instead of an Indian (scusi - Native American non-leadership voluntary tribal participant)? Sure, but I don't have the ideas and I don't really want to work that hard. I've chosen to prioritize family and personal life over the commitment to work that being a chief requires.
This is not just liberals, by the way, though I think it's more common there. It's a curse of the elite and the hyper-driven to think there's failure in the ordinary. Not necessarily a bad thing - great advances in every aspect of life require the kinds of people who won't settle for the ordinary. But it's awfully arrogant to sit back and write off the paycheck takers as failures. A lot of us do things that allow the hyper types to do what they do in comfort, safety, and freedom.