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Frank In SD, I believe I hit a nerve.

You mistake criticism for disdain. It’s not the same thing. Many passionate critics care deeply about the object of their observation and point out flaws in the hope of seeing improvements.

I earned my master’s degree in Mass Communication at San Diego State University’s School of Communication (now Journalism & Media Studies) and studied journalism as part of the program. I pursued this degree while employed as a broadcast journalist (15 years as a producer and editor prior to practicing public relations) precisely because I wasn’t engaged in the sort of critical thinking in the workplace so crucial to the practice of good journalism. It’s important with a capital “I.”

You’re fortunate if you attended a program that offered the kind of curriculum that I advocate. I’d endorse it wholeheartedly. But it’s not the norm. I agree wholeheartedly that journalism SHOULD be a committed field of intellectual study. But most programs are vocational, not intellectual.

And it’s precisely because news IS being collapsed into smaller and smaller pieces of communication that it must be extremely precise and accurate. When you’re limited to the equivalent of a headline, every word matters. It would be nice to force people to read thoughtful, 3,000 word articles or watch “Frontline” style hour-long documentaries, but that isn’t how most of them consume news these days. Adapt or die.

Oh, and I’ve never taken a marketing course in my life.

— GAYLE FALKENTHAL

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