There's nothing new in the doom and gloom. Ben Bagdikian, a former Washington Post editor now dean emeritus of the journalism school at the University of California-Berkley, summed it up 40 years ago when he said, "Trying to be a first-rate reporter on the average American newspaper is like trying to play Bach's St. Matthew's Passion on a ukulele: The instrument is too crude for the work, for the audience and for the performer."
True enough. But you've got to try.
This week's stories in Illinois Times tell how things are shaking out here lately, and they're not just for students who want to go into the news business. The trends are national, and they're important for everyone who deals with -- or reads, watches, listens to or surfs -- the media. Which is all of us.
A sidelight. In Amanda Parsons' story on local TV news, there's a little preview of what Benedictine students can expect from Nathan Mihelich, who will teach TV production spring semester. Formerly a Channel 20 reporter, Mihelich is now information director for the Dominican Sisters of Springfield. Says the IT story:
Mihelich will teach a new television-production course at Benedictine University/Springfield College in the spring, and he says he will use his experiences at WICS and other news stations to teach students about the value of investigative reporting, the importance of quality rather than quantity, and how to turn a story into a presentable piece that people care about and may act upon.Read the IT stories and be ready to discuss them in class next week.