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Let’s Think of Our Journalists as Rabbis Not MBA’s

I am not sure why, but I find myself disagreeing rather often with Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. (See here and here.) The latest disagreement is over his statement in Geneva Overholser’s manifesto on behalf of journalism. In a discussion about credentialing journalists, there is this:

Nicholas Lemann, dean of the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, said the model he likes is the MBA, which “is required nowhere but has a highly meaningful credential value everywhere. If journalism graduate degrees achieved that cachet, we could all die happy….”

I would rather our model be rabbinical schools rather than MBA programs. I want someone more like a rabbi, who studies constantly, is wise and sees interpreting the world as an art as much as a science. I like the Wikipedia explanation:

Rabbis … typically speak on behalf of their communities on a wide range of issues, offer spiritual leadership for their congregation, and are usually involved in Jewish lifecycle events. Nevertheless, rabbis are not essential to the performance of Jewish liturgy and ritual, and Jewish congregations can persist indefinitely without a rabbi assigned to them.

I want our journalists to be wise, thoughtful members of the community, rather than cold and calculating distant observers. In this new participatory culture we will need information providers, aggregators, mediators and navigators, who are part of the community but who have status because of their wisdom and accomplishments, not because of their degree.

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One Response to “Let’s Think of Our Journalists as Rabbis Not MBA’s”

  1. Grayson Says:

    Dude’d have a cow if he knew how many times TrueGritz had been “officially” credentialed as gen-u-ine media members.