August 29, 2007

The future of investigative (and regular) journalism

I saw this cartoon today and it reminded me of a discussion I had several years ago with undergraduates at AU.

I had mentioned that to understand what it really means to dig and dig some more for a story, the students should read "All the President's Men." One student actually asked if the book was based on the movie!

I was taken aback that a journalism student would ask such a question but then I recalled that many in our business often refer to the movie as one of the best movies about journalism. (I later found out the student was in the public relations track and was taking a journalism class to help his writing.)

I agree with that assessment. It is one of the best portrayals of our profession to the popular market. However, for future journalists -- electronic, cyber, or print -- reading, reading and more reading are still key. (Just ask my students. They hear how important reading is in every class.)

I think we do our students a disfavor by not pushing them to read.

So far I have been impressed with most of my students. Several are dedicated readers of many forms of literature. They see how noun and verbs are arranged and rearranged to make a dramatic story. Still, it is useful to remind our charges that reading is vital to good writing.

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