Friday, October 26, 2012

Editor, give me a title

robert langellier

It's come to my attention lately that there are more important things than blogging on invisible Wordpress accounts about journalism articles you've already written. Like blogging on Classic Brian, for example. I'm going to talk here about why journalism sucks, and why journalists are some of the suckiest people you'll meet. Here are the reasons:

Journalistic publications suck. Classic Brian does not have editors that pare down my silly antics and acrobatic wordplay after just having told me to write with more voice. It does not tell me I need to transition from point to point. So I won't.

Editors have no idea that you're 21 years old. Someone told them all that everyone is 11 and just learning the language. They will treat your clearly thought-out and purposeful sentence constructions as your 5th grade teacher would. I'm aware that "A white button-down." is not a sentence. It's a sentence now, fucker.

Editors get really mad at you for not knowing AP Style in its entirety. Why would I ever spend five seconds learning some of the most meaningless memorization facts ever thought up? If I write "Austin, TX," the world isn't going to end when you change it to "Austin, Texas." That's an editor's job, anyway. They have to have to do something, right? In other news, I'm going to lose about a half a letter grade in my class for my unparalleled failure to know or look up AP Style in my articles.

The word "snark." The magazine work I do is a pathetic excuse for storytelling. I get 600 words to tell a story. Fuck that. I poop 600 words. What kind of story can I write in 600 words? All I can do is draft an advertisement. Vox Magazine is a well-designed Add Sheet. My editors compensate for this literary straightjacket by gleefully informing me that I can insert some "snark" into my writing. Thanks! I squeeze a droplet of voice into a story, and I unfailingly get this comment back from whichever editor is reading my story: "Great snark!" Good god. I want to throw up on my Word document. If you think a pinch of "snark" is going to save a story and make it worth someone's time, God help you, and may journalism destroy you.

Journalists take themselves real seriously. Especially with stuff like ethics. Accepting gifts. People treat free beer or a hot dog like it's a car. I did a story last week where my videographer and I were offered some barbeque from a source. She hadn't eaten all day, man. It was night time. She said no, and left. Jessie, you are literally starving. If you're so susceptible to brainwashing that you can't eat a sandwich and tell the same story you had before your sandwich, you shouldn't be in journalism. I'll take all your beer.

Journalism is for pussies and people with poles in their butts.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Nick - We Had The Magic All Along -OR- The Future Of The Shadow Of My Footprints -OR- Make It A Priority To Learn: A Reprise

You know what's cool? Statistics. Statistics are so cool. This year I'm taking a class that involves writing a very light junior thesis (only has to be around 20 pages) on a topic of my choosing relating to the politics of international development. And before this year, I thought statistics were math on a piece of paper.

I know a guy working on his PhD, who once told me that I should "take more statistics. Statistics is like magic for grad students." Well, Robby does not lie.

When you want to do research and actually contribute to the field to which you have dedicated your life, you need the tools to evaluate the world. Evaluate the world in a way that can easily be translated to empirical numbers and facts. And to do that, even though sometimes it's boring, you need to know your math.

I feel like a lot of political science majors don't really get it. They don't learn anything and they spend their entire undergraduate career in courses about theory and political philosophy. But hold that thought for a second, I'll come back to it.

Today Monday night improv was cancelled, and I had some free time. I discovered Khan Academy, which is a great place to go if you want to learn things. And it helped me figure out all the statistics trouble I was having.

I think that with all the great free resources we have available to us now, we can move to a new generation of higher education. A generation that is more focused on research than theory, more focused on learning practical skills instead of leaving it up to you to put your skill set and the real world together. I feel like I stumbled into a tract of the political science department reserved for a few brave and lucky guinea pigs; here's hoping that the people of the future will get this opportunity earlier and more consistently.

I want to see higher education advance. I want to see people understand more, instead of just learning more. I want to see students learn how to do research instead of how to look at it.

I'm rambling, so I'm just going to cut myself off here and end on the same soap box that I ended my first ever Classic Brian post on: make it a priority to learn. Before this year, I didn't know that empirical research was a thing that one could study. There's a whole world of material out there you haven't even heard of yet.