"Better in my grandfather's day," he told me, shaking his head sadly.
"We grow progressively more Philistine," I suggested.
"It is our cheap press. The ephemeral overwhelms the permanent, the classical."
"This journalism," I agreed, "or call it rather rather this piddling quotidianism*, is the curse of our age."
"Fit only for......." He gesticulated clutchingly with his hands as though seeking the word.
"For the fire."
The old man was triumphantly emphatic with his, "No: for the sewer."
THE BOOK SHOP - ALDOUS HUXLEY
* 'daily recurrence' (I had to look it up. I thought I'd save you the trouble.)
FAREWELL ADDRESS TO THE GRADUATING JOURNALISM MAJORS - CLASS OF 2008
Welcome to all of you, the top dozen Journalism majors of this year’s graduating class, the cream of the crop. This will be the first and only session of CIVICS 101 and will last, at most, 10 minutes. Successful completion of this session will satisfy the final requirement for your Journalism degree. Any questions?
No questions, that’s a good journalistic sign. As journalists, you must be prepared to trust your own pre-conceived notions and not stoop to being influenced by what less intelligent people might call facts. However, if there remain any areas of curiosity at the conclusion of the session, I will be glad to entertain your questions then.
Now, because you are who you are, I’ll skip over the lecture and proceed to the final examination. Don’t worry, it shouldn’t be too difficult for, as we’ve kept reminding you, you’re all superior individuals.
Open the envelope on your desk and remove the one-page test sheet inside. As you see, it consists of four questions, all of which are multiple choice. Take a minute to scan it while I read it to you, as I know you all dislike reading anything someone else has written. After which, we’ll proceed to the actual examination.
1. WHEN IS ELECTION DAY?
A. The 1st Tuesday in November.
B. The 3rd Friday in February.
C. Barack Obama’s birthday.
D. Any day you feel like voting.
2. WHO MAY VOTE?
A. Any citizen of the United States, eighteen years or older.
B. Anyone, citizen or not, regardless of age, living or dead.
C. Any resident of the United States, legal or otherwise.
D. Anyone registered by ACORN (including 'B' and 'C', above).
3. HOW SHOULD A VOTER DECIDE FOR WHOM TO VOTE?
A. Examine the issues along with the candidates’ experiences and characters.
B. Follow the advice of movie stars, rock stars and other intellectual giants.
C. Rate how the candidates speak, look and dress, not how they think and act.
D. See how much each promises to take away from someone else to give to you.
4. WHAT WOULD CAUSE RIOTS AND DISTURBANCES IN THE INNER CITIES?
A. Obama Loses.
B. Obama Wins.
C. Either of the above.
D. None of the above.
Now that we’ve reviewed the test, it’s time to grade your answers. I will assume that each of you made an emotional connection with one answer to each of the four questions. As I give you the correct answers, I want you to grade yourselves. As Journalism majors, you’ve been taught never to accept the criticism of others, so we expect you to grade your own responses.
THE ANSWER ‘A’ in each case is archaic, not at all emblematic of change. It reeks of yesterday, the old world, not the new world, not the world you want to create.
THE ANSWERS ‘B’ and ‘C’ in each case may be desirable or beneficial, but are only parts of the whole, steps in the right direction, falling short of fulfilling your progressive dreams.
THE ANSWER ‘D’ in each case is the correct answer, the progressive answer, the doorway to the new world, as I’m sure you all realized immediately.
May we have a show of hands of those who had the correct answer? All of you. I’m not surprised. As head of the Department of Journalism I’ve tried to be your guide through the intricacies of our Electoral process and I’m proud of your accomplishments.
Ooops! I see we have two people with questions. We’ll start with the young man in the second row. What’s on your mind? …….Thank you, I’ll repeat your question for the class. You want to know what the word ‘intricacies’ means. Well, that’s my fault. Perhaps I should have used a simpler expression. Think of it more as the trivial details of the process which, frankly, you needn’t worry about.
And you, young lady by the window. You also had your hand up……..I see, you want to know why Journalists have to know anything about the Electoral process. A very good question.
The answer has two aspects. In the first instance, you must exhibit at least a passing acquaintance with the process in order to feign objectivity and attract a following. However, as you progress through your career and your personal convictions become more important than the facts, this ‘objectivity’ may become at least a distraction or, more seriously, a detriment to the overall mission for which we’ve prepared you, that is, to change the world.
I see there’s another question from the same young man in the second row………”No. I’m sorry, but we don’t have enough time to explain all the words you don’t understand. Be comforted by the fact that, wherever you’re going to be working, words will not be as important as mood, your point of view, the emotion involved beneath the surface. Remember the motto of what used to be the nation’s premier newspaper, “All the news that fits us, we print.”
And, need I remind you that the old ‘report the news and keep your opinions to yourself’ school of journalism that may have been appreciated by your grandfathers is outdated. As I said before, your studies here have prepared you to change the world, not merely parrot useless facts. Truth must be dealt with. When the truth doesn’t further your personal agenda, distort it. When it threatens your agenda, destroy it.
Now go forth, you seekers of Utopia, you instruments of change, and help bring about your courageous new world. And should the God in whom you do not believe actually exist, may He have mercy on your souls!