Friday, March 11, 2005

A night with a real, live Medildo

Last night I met up with X, a current print journalism student at Medill who's spending a couple of quarters in the D.C. newsroom. She was kind enough to show me around the D.C. bureau, and then we headed out for drinks so I could pick her brain.

Regarding the D.C. newsroom: there's a program during the year at Medill where you can choose to study for one or two quarters in D.C. My impression was that it's mostly the print and broadcast students who are interested in doing this. Apparently when you go there, you are taking seminars and whatnot, but mostly writing articles (in print journalism, at least) - you get assigned to a particular newspaper in almost any region of the country, and act as their D.C. correspondent. So you end up with a ton of experience and a ton of clips.

The newsroom was pretty quiet when I arrived around 5:45 p.m. - people were huddled at their computers, many with headphones on, typing away, studying notes, or talking quietly on the phone. The broadcast students were on the other side of the room, working on who knows what. X said she often stays there till 8 or 9 at night, but this evening we headed off early to a bar to drink and talk.

Most of the night ending up being me blathering on about blogs, since X had professed an interest in them. I was absolutely shocked to learn that most of her fellow Medill students rarely ever read blogs, and that when X had tried to introduce the idea of blogs into the program, the professors totally resisted, mostly because they were afraid they couldn't keep a blog about political reporting objective and neutral.

To that I say: pfffft. If I were to start a Medill blog about political reporting (not that I know anything about that subject anyway) it would only tangentially be about politics; I'd like to keep the focus on the process and the experience. These students must be having some pretty amazing times, trotting around Capital Hill and talking with senators. I don't think they need to go into nittygrittys about their dealings, but I would be fascinated to read, for example, how they decided to do a particular article or any interesting things that happened in the writing of the piece. I don't care so much about the articles they end up writing - I want to know what happened along the way and what they think about it.

Anyway, I guess I shouldn't have been so surprised - a Gallup poll just revealed that 56% of people have no friggin' clue what a blog even is. But 44% of those who do read blogs are ages 18 to 29, so it's only going to grow.

But! Back to the original topic. X told me a lot about her experience thus far at Medill - fabulous professors; she did a work study program and recommends it, because you're working for a faculty member and get to do research for them; wonderful education; and each program is VERY segregated - for example, New Media doesn't spend a lot of time with Magazine. And! - apparently a lot of your fellow classmates are wicked cutthroat ambitious. Not that I didn't expect this, but it was still kind of unsettling to hear, because personally, I'm not really like that. And am not looking forward to dealing with people like that. But I suppose it's all part of the experience. The $60,000 experience.