“In an introductory journalism class, 11 of 18 students could not name what country Kabul was in, although we have been at war there for half a decade. Last fall only one in 21 students could name the U.S. secretary of defense. Given a list of four countries — China, Cuba, India, and Japan — not one of those same 21 students could identify India and Japan as democracies. Their grasp of history was little better. The question of when the Civil War was fought invited an array of responses — half a dozen were off by a decade or more. Some students thought that Islam was the principal religion of South America, that Roe v. Wade was about slavery, that 50 justices sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, that the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1975. You get the picture, and it isn’t pretty.”
“A lot of us who go into journalism are completely sheltered and naive about what it actually entails, disillusioned by unrealistic portrayals in movies that lack the actual two-weeks-standing-on-your-feet-and-Photocopying and ulcer-inducing insecurity that we face in our pursuit of a byline.
“I myself have a long history of being boondoggled by pop culture: I applied to NYU because I thought it’d be just like Greenwich Village in the 1950s, all beatniks in berets, poetic and artistic and sipping coffee over a dog-eared Village Voice. Naive, right? (I hope charmingly so.)