One of the simple pleasures of blogging is getting called from time to time by journalism students who are looking for a couple of quick quotes for a term paper.
I am happy to oblige, because no one else wants to listen to my stories about the olden, golden days of the newspaper business. While the students may not be universally thrilled by what I have to say, I find it fascinating to learn what’s on their minds.
In talking today with a pleasant fellow who is halfway through earning his master’s degree in journalism at the prestigious Columbia University, I happened to mention the name of Mike Royko, one of the top journalists of the 20th Century.
And this is how the conversation went:
“Sorry,” said the student, whose journalism education will cost more than $43,000 a year in tuition and fees (plus an estimated $24,000 in living expenses). “What was the name of that reporter again?”
“Mike Royko,” I said.
"Can you spell it?"
“Never heard of him.”
“What exactly are they teaching you at Columbia?”
“Not the history of journalism.”
So, what are they teaching?
Follow-up: Fair being fair, here's a geezer quiz
“Do I expect a 20-year-old (or a 25-year-old) today to know Royko’s work?” asks Mindy McAdams, a journalism educator who writes the blog Teaching Online Journalism. “No. Why should she?”
“Let’s turn the tables,” continues Mindy, “and ask if the green-eyeshade types know these people’s work.” See Mindy’s quiz here. (Newsosaur, who never had a green eyeshade but always wanted one, barely got a passing grade.)
Other reactions are at Meranda Writes, Steve Yelvington, Journerdism.Com, Notes from a Teacher, Committee of Concerned Journalists, John Robinson's blog and the Comments below.