Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Why aspiring writers should be allowed to fail in private:

In the dozen or so hours a day I spend on Jim Romenesko's media news Web site, I have read a lot about college newspapers. Collegiate editors run amok. Editorialists making sloppy pronouncements. ("I want all Arabs to be stripped naked and cavity-searched if they get within 100 yards of an airport," wrote one columnist—an international studies major.) Plagiarists, con artists, and hacks: the kind of journalistic malefactors that Romenesko specializes in smoking out for public inspection. The difference, of course, is that the collegians are usually between 18 and 22 years old. And if they're anything like I was during that interregnum, they don't have a clue about where to place a comma—let alone how to craft their public personae for their future colleagues. College newspapers have gone digital, and with that we've lost something vital about college journalism: the privilege to write wretchedly, irresponsibly, and incoherently in relative privacy. "When you screw up now, it's Google-able," says Christopher Buckley, the editor of Forbes FYI and a veteran of the Yale Daily News. "In the old days, you just had to wait three days and no one would remember."
10:34 PM