Tag Archive: Final Cut Pro

“The cab driver boasted that his daughter had just graduated. But then he admitted that her journalism degree from the University of Wisconsin had cost $140,000. Since journalism is an ill-paid job that requires no formal qualification, this sounds like a waste of money.” – The Economist, Universities challenged, August 31, 2013


Those are fightin’ words.

Doesn’t The Economist benefit from well-trained and clever journalists?

Should we just shut down all journalism and mass communication schools nationwide, if not worldwide?

Would the last J-school student be kind enough to turn out the lights?

This revealing provocative lead in which the Economist writer shared her/his intimate conversation with a Chicago area cabbie (so much wisdom is imparted in cabs) actually concerned the state of affairs of higher education. Namely, the upcoming federal Department of Education (DOE) ratings system in which colleges and universities conceivably will be judged for federal hand-outs based upon cost, graduation rate and how much students earn in their careers.

And you thought the Bowl Championship Series (BSC) metrics were Byzantine? Thank Darwin we only have to endure this system for one more year. The DOE standards/regulations could be with us into the indefinite future…which could be, forever.

Now that we have clarified the basic premise of the article, let’s go back to the notion that journalism is “ill paid,” that it requires “no formal qualification” and the implication that university journalism schools are a “waste of money.”

Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

Considering that I have two journalism-related degrees (one undergraduate and the other post-graduate) and I spent more than three-decades as a reporter (a few years) and as a public relations practitioner (a lot of years) and lately as a college instructor (a few more), I have a problem or two with the gross oversimplification exhibited by The Economist.

There is no doubt that college is damn expensive and not getting cheaper anytime soon. And yes, traditional Gutenbergesque journalism is in trouble. The business model doesn’t work anymore. Having acknowledged the obvious, these conclusions miss a major point: The global desire and yearning for instantaneous-and-accurate information on a 24/7/365 basis has never been greater.

The ability to tell the story, and to tell it well whether it be a reporter/editor, a public relations practitioner or advertising professional is in constant demand and cannot be effectively outsourced or offshored en masse.

The methods for telling, reporting and disseminating the story are changing. The world has moved from analog to digital. The demand for information outstrips the supply, and this trend is accelerating. This is an upward-to-the-right market.

And how will future journalism, public relations, advertising, social media and multi-media professionals learn these information development and dissemination skills? How about these supposedly “waste-of-money” journalism schools?


1.)  Writing effectively will always be in demand, particularly by those who can quickly come to the point, provide insightful analysis, and write professionally and skillfully, employing AP Style.

2.)   Understanding the concept of the inverted pyramid in which the crux of the story is in the lead and all the supporting information flows from there.

3.)   Determining whether a story is newsworthy (or not) for target audiences. Learning how to ask the What? When? Where? Who, Why? And How?, ascertain these answers and transmit a complete-and-clear picture succinctly to news transmitters, whether they are conventional or digital.

4.)   Grasping and using “Big Data” in the form of compelling infographics to quickly and efficiently present useful information to critical audiences.

5.)   Appreciating that social media is not monolithic. There is a distinction between “connections” and “friends” online. Yes, you can digitally self-publish in 140-characters or less. Blogging is alive and well. Social media can be radioactive as digital miscues are eternal.

6.)   Comprehending the societal and technological shift from two-way asymmetrical communication theory (one to the masses) to digitally enabled two-way symmetrical communication theory conversations (message receiver responds publicly to the message sender).

7.)   Gaining the skill sets to generate professional digital photos, audio and video and use state-of-the-art software (e.g., Final Cut Pro) for compelling multimedia pieces.

8.)   Garnering the knowledge of financial communications including relevant SEC disclosure rules and being able to distinguish between fiduciary responsibility and corporate social responsibility.

9.)   Overcoming glossophobia and becoming more confident in delivering presentations, particularly those that are conversational in style and using supporting graphics.

10.)  Securing the confidence to perform instinctively in a crisis communications setting, quickly develop relevant messages and ultimately protect an organization’s reputation and brand.


There is little doubt that journalism, public relations, advertising, social media and multi-media educators, graduates and students can add to the Almost DailyBrett list of J-School attributes cited above, including cultural distinctions inherent in international communications.

What’s more important is that when one considers and weighs the skill sets that are being taught and learned, particularly in a rapidly changing technology landscape, the value of a solid journalism education is maybe as valuable as it has ever been.

Society’s insatiable demand for news and information has never been greater.

The Genie is simply not going back into the bottle.




University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are so small. — Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

Three Crucial Questions for the President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf

Henry the K may be a tad too strong in his assessment about college and university politics, but behind every exaggeration is a usually a strong element of truth.

As I prepare to “defend” my MA project paper this week, I am appreciative of the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication for offering me a Graduate Teaching Fellowship…it was an offer that I simply could not refuse. The fellowship is basically a free master’s degree, the provision of full-medical, dental and vision for my family and a small stipend. In exchange, I served as a teaching assistant for five quarters including lecturing at least three classes per quarter, which is invaluable experience.

Several of my colleagues have asked if I am contemplating going on and pursuing a doctorate in Journalism, my response: Let me defend my MA first; and I didn’t know that psychedelic mushrooms were still in vogue.

Looking back at the past 18 months, there are facets of the academic experience that standout in my mind, particularly for a middle-aged, Anglo guy pursuing my second degree 34 years after the first one (the average grad student is 29-years old).

● Are we instilling students to be social justice activists or are we preparing them to get a job? What is more important in the long-term? Blow-by-blow accounts of the epic “victories” of the Occupy Wall Street or lecturing students about return on investment (ROI), cover letters and resumes? You have probably already figured out by now where I come down on this point.


● Why do some students, teaching assistants and even tenured faculty absolutely detest Wall Street? On several occasions, I have been asked why I am creating a course called, “Strategic Business/Financial Communications.” The questions seem to imply that I am guilty of aiding and abetting corporate monsters. Certainly some antipathy to corporate greed and excessive CEO compensation is justified. At the same time, a large percentage of these very same social justice advocates are also part of the Apple cult (i.e., iPads, iPhones, iPods and Macs). Gee, isn’t Apple a multi-national enterprise (MNE)? Whatever.

● Even though completion of a second full-year of foreign language is required for a master of arts degree, I have to question why is foreign language study not recommended or downright discouraged by a professional school? Was ist los? Ich verstehe nicht.  I have no clue why this is the case. Learning to read, write, hear and speak another language makes you better at your language. Aren’t we learning how to tell the story and aren’t language skills essential to telling these stories?

● And while we are the subject of telling stories, why is there not greater emphasis on the analog skills of writing, grammar, style and editing? There is no doubt that the digital software skills of audio and video production (e.g. Final Cut Pro) and importing and cropping of photos (e.g. Photoshop) are increasingly vital, but written and verbal language skills are the essence of telling the story and telling it well. These skills are not easily offshored and outsourced.

● Even though I was pleased as punch to serve as a teaching assistant, I was stunned by the massive egos of a few, certainly not all, of my colleagues. There are some cases in which teaching assistants are injecting their personal political agenda and subordinating the course. There are other cases where they dominate a classroom with an outpouring of verbal diarrhea that would make a filibustering US senator blush. Didn’t your mother teach you to share?


● What is the worst grade that you can give to a student? F? D-? How about an A- or even worse a B+? Get ready to climb into your fox hole and fix bayonets when you give out one of these grades. Expect to be told about how hard the student worked, how another instructor said the assignment deserved an A. And be sure to be prepared for an onslaught of negatives in your teaching assessment evaluation. Every quarter somebody gets me real good. It simply goes with the territory. As mumsy said, you can’t please everyone…yep they even put Jesus Christ up on a cross.

● Diversity is celebrated with one big exception. Let’s hear it for differences in ethnicity, culture, gender, and sexual orientation and non-Western creeds. The notable exception to “diversity” is those poor souls that harbor an annoying political disposition. It’s the one that believes that rapidly expanding government is not the automatic answer to all questions, wants to keep taxes reasonable, supports private enterprise and a strong national defense. You may have heard of these folks. No, I am not surprised. I went to school in Eugene. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to have at least one registered Republican on a professional school’s faculty? What a novel idea?

Even though I humbly raise some issues that someone may consider to actually be important, I am thankful for the advanced degree, the opportunity to receive the Zertifikät Deutsch, to team on a ghostblogging research project and to receive an academic award for that same project.

As a friend who knew me from my Bay Area days and knows me now said, “You seem calmer and happier.”

I will buy into that.

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