by Locker Room contributor
Mainstream journalism is in the worst shape it’s been in since maybe when “The Yellow Kid” was still on the comics pages. Take, for example, the Colorado State University college paper’s editorial on the kid who was tasered last week. The headline? “Taser this.” The entire editorial? “F–K Bush.”
The times have indeed changed since I was executive editor of The Red & Black at the University of Georgia in 1973. We ran an editorial cartoon in the week before the annual Georgia-Ga. Tech game that got the entire editorial staff hauled in on the dean’s carpet. It showed two Georgia students walking by a wall on campus. On the wall was a fan’s grafitto: “Go to hell Tech. Get fu” That’s all it showed, as the wall went off-cartoon at that point. The caption was: “Man, this rivalry just gets more intense every year.”
Pretty tame stuff by today’s standards. I thought our editorial board over-reacted back then, and I still do. But I also think the standards of journalism schools were higher then than now. The main job of the Henry W. Grady School of Journalism dean and professors back in those days was teaching all of us lefty radical editors to be even-handed, even with Richard Nixon in the White House and the Vietnam War going hot and heavy. Our paper endorsed McGovern, of course, but we were taught to leave that kind of fuzzy thinking and partisanship on the editorial page.
What do J-School deans and profs teach today? Just the opposite, it seems. Taser boy is himself a journalism major. Imagine that. Will the editorial writer who wrote the CSU papers’ “Taser this” editorial put it proudly in his or her folder of clips for that job interview? Probably. “Oh, you’re the one who did that?” asks the job interviewer. “That was cool. You’re hired.”
Like imams the world over who keep silent while a whole religion is being destroyed by maniacs, journalism school deans are doing the same while their industry is crumbling about them. There’s a lack of courage among both.