Holly: Most winter weeknights, while Americans are cleaning up after dinner, herding the kids toward their beds, plotting to catch an episode of “This Is Us,” Garry and I sit at the copper-top kitchen table with our MacBooks open, dissecting the news and the news business.
Garry: Pitiful. I know. But this is us. Journalism is a lifestyle, not a job.
H: Especially these days. It’s simultaneously a challenging and a stimulating time to be teaching and studying journalism.
G: No sh*t! The journalism field once again is under attack by some politicians and their supporters. Like presidents John Adams, U.S. Grant and Richard Nixon before him, President Donald Trump is condemning the watchdog press as the enemy — with some success.
A year-end Gallup poll indicates that only 25% of Americans give newspaper reporters high or very high ratings for honesty and ethical behavior. At the other end, 35% give reporters a low or very low rating for their conduct.
H: My reading — and observation — suggests that millions of Americans prefer to get their news from partisan media outlets that reflect their political views, creating information bubbles that are reinforced by social media.
G: Agreed. This feels like a unique moment, during which journalism teachers should be making their case about why ethical, accurate reporting has perhaps never been more important. These days, many of us are delivering sermons about the value of journalism at a time when some say #journalismIsDead.
H: Well, we refrained from proselytizing, but in 2017, Garry and I did develop a series of workshops on the importance of news media literacy. Both of us made presentations to audiences at local libraries and service organizations. Garry was invited to comment multiple times on local radio stations WJR and WWJ. In some ways President Trump has actually been good for the news business. Therefore I proclaim #journalismIsNotDead
G: So, this year, we’ve developed a conversational-style blog. We hope to use our combined 75 years of experience as journalists and educators to:
- Explain what we’re teaching in our courses and why.
- Explore the gaps between the reality-based press and the partisan media though the lens of accountability.
- Encourage a frank but civil conversation about the role of the press and its historic bird-dog duty.
- Comment on the business of news.
- Spotlight and explore examples of excellence — and examples of not-so-excellent — in writing, editing and news design.
H: If we prove to be interesting, please register as a reader and join the conversation. As we both tell our students, we much prefer a dialogue over a lecture.
G: Let’s close by offering a hat tip to our Oakland University colleague Peter Trumbore, whose blog we follow for his insights on the science of politics. I hope we can be half as thought-provoking.
H: And half as dapper.