Like many academic schedules, we often leave the final day of class for “housekeeping”. Returning papers. Taking in final assignments. Exchanging “what did you get from this class” pleasantries.
In my final class for 2033 Writing for the Mass Media this semester, I wanted to inspire students to understand the value of what they had just experienced. This course is very likely the most demanding – and at times most frustrating – they have ever encountered. Good students struggle with a barrage of assignments requiring different media writing techniques and parameters. They receive harsh penalties for typos and seemingly minor proper name miscues. And far too little time is spent on any single aspect of media writing for them to get a deep experience in any style. It is a broad stroke of heavy expectations across the spectrum, including print, broadcast, feature, and the all-encompassing web. And don’t forget AP (as in Associated Press) style.
I told them as they go forward I hope they find inspiration – somehow – in every moment. That they take on the roles of open-minded leaders in their communities by being fair in deed, proponents of education and active citizens. Hopefully they have learned the value of being great listeners in order to become great writers.
Everywhere you go, I told them, there will be no shortage of people who will tell you what you can’t do. I say, let those people go their own way. I say, someone has to achieve the things you dream of and believe you can achieve. Why can’t it be you? Why can’t it be you.
Below is a copy of a handwritten item the late Bill McPhail gave to me one day when I was in his office talking about life. He was the founding force behind CNN Sports (back in the day) but most importantly was someone who believed in his fellow human beings. I read this every day.