My, my my. A month. How embarrassing. During my perfectly delightful lunch with Lindsay B., when she mentioned this blog I thought "Oh my gawd! I haven't updated Crayons at all!"
Racing to the end, with RW1 and everything else, I forgot to do the simplest things - like put up my last Critical Issues paper, which can encapsulate that class well enough. (I'll have a goodbye-to-RW1 post up later tonight-- I think.)
Those who cruise in here from the SPJ page or one of the J-school blogs should envision what's below as my response to Dick Wald, the elfin TV executive with the hunky son from CNBC, and his string of guest speakers and films.
For those who can't do that, the references to "Food Lion" in what' below refers to a 1992 ABC exposé of the supermarket chain, which was upended by a sly, Swift-Boaty PR campaign on the part of the corporation. Their lawsuit and slick video news release cast deep shadows on a 2-year-long, solidly researched piece by ABC's investigative team.
One over-arching, never spoken, theme of this class is what most journalists takes as gospel – that journalism is the opposite of public relations. We're supposed to be afflicting the comfortable, comforting the afflicted, puncturing holes in the smooth stories played out by politicians, corporations, churches. And much of this class has been about taking the hallmarks of good PR – super-clear stories with exact endings, data that all point the same way – and suggesting that they don't make good journalism.
But we're in an era where PR masking as journalism has defined our politics, with sometimes tragic results. So I want to suggest a theme that will probably dominate today's class anyway, after I've turned this in: how do we interact with power, when they've learned how to do what we do?