Friday, September 5, 2008

the kids are alright

I'm writing this post about a half hour before the last class of my first week of teaching. Unless this last class--only 10 students enrolled, thank god--proves me wrong, I have not had a single killer in any class. It's always my unreasonable fear before walking into a classroom, that it will be filled with killers. Once again, I'm proven wrong on that front.

But something else has been proven wrong as well: The idea that people, especially teenagers, no longer give a shit about journalism. If the swelling enrollment of my department is at all representational, I can tell you they care--a lot. There are over 250 students enrolled in the Intro to Journalism class--so many students, in fact, that they have to offer 12 sections. Almost 800 students in the entire department. It's the largest department in our school (the Media Arts college) after the Film Department, and it's been growing for years now.

And I asked the kids in my intro class this week why they wanted to get into journalism, and you know what? It's the same reasons I did and you did and we all were pulled into this calling. They still believe in a just society, in an informed populace, and in speaking truth to power. And sure, they may not (yet) understand that the Nancy Graces of the world aren't truly committing acts of journalism, and they don't have a real grasp (yet) of the myriad of changes that will directly affect their livelihoods the same way they've affected ours. But they have a passion and the excitement for this work that reminds me of, well, me way back when.

So yes, journalism is at a crossroads right now and many of us are having to face some of the harsh realities of that crossroads. But in the long run, if the kids I've met this week have any say in the matter, journalism will be just fine.
When was the last time you heard someone say that?