Friday, May 7, 2010

Bathroom Journalism

Question One: Should students be threatened to have their degrees withheld until after they have a chat with the dean of students for pulling a juvenile prank in the farewell edition of their student newspaper?

The answer: No.

Question Two: Should graduating seniors who are looking to enter professional careers, some in journalism, pull a juvenile stunt in the farewell edition of their student newspaper?

Again, the answer: No.

Senior staff at the Utah Daily Chronicle at the University of Utah obviously thought this was a funny joke:

The Student Press Law Center is right to chide the administration at the University of Utah for threatening to withhold the students' records and degrees for pulling this stupid prank, but that someone needs to talk to these juveniles about the idiocy of their stupid prank is also right.

Unless I'm grossly mistaken, journalism is an industry that already has a difficult time building credibility and loyalty. Journalism is already an industry with a sorry reputation for juvenile stunts and other such miscreant behavior that is most unbecoming the more serious side of what journalism is supposed to represent. Yes, this is First Amendment fodder. But can't these student journalists exercise their First Amendment rights by actually doing something useful with their journalistic skills (I don't know, writing about the economic crisis that's pounding education, campus safety, et cetera) rather than treat their newspaper as if it were the walls of a bathroom stall? Do they seriously want to work at Mad Magazine?

Evidently not.

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