Friday, October 17, 2008

Death by Journalism: the cry of the complainer

It is remarkable how many first year students in our journalism class just can’t stop whining about everything and anything to do with the course they so diligently selected. I’ve been doing this course as long as everybody else, and sure, I’ve had my sleepless nights over journalism but you don’t see me complaining about it. I came to the School of Journalism and Media at Rhodes University to do more that just nurture my social life at the Rat and Parrot.
This complaining began in the first term when Nicky Crockoft facilitated a discussion on exam preparations and coping with first year. Journalism one students were rather vocal about the work load given to us by the journalism department alone. Sure, I felt the pressure in the first semester because of trying to adjust to university, but it’s the fourth term and some things we just need to move past. Yet, I do think this was constructive complaining that took place during that lecture, considering we were given the floor to do it. Sadly and with a sigh I make a request to all fellow journalism students to please refrain from complaining about how much they have to do for journalism during their English one tutorial’s. The other departments have their fair share of work to do too.

I think the issue here, close to the end of the year, is the fear of work that requires you to do more that just regurgitate and reference someone else’s academic work. The argument by a fellow Journalism student whom we shall name Gioia was that journalism is killing her social life. She usually gets so busy during the week catching up with friends and then she suddenly has all these deadlines so close to each other. “Suddenly” she says? Ha! Do future journalists at Rhodes hear the things they say? Nothing happens suddenly. Hard work in the life of a journalism one student life is what Stuart Small describes as “the accumulation of small things you should have done earlier.”

Really, the field of journalism is failing ordinary people and they’ve had to find means to make themselves visible. I don’t think I need to remind too many of you of Anthea Garman’s course on “Struggles for Visibility” based on Thompsons “The New Visibility” journal. For those who missed that term for what ever reason, Thompson speaks about how the rise of the mass media has helped some people, who struggled for visibility, be able to get their message across through the many mediums now available to them. Yet, the majority of the people of Grahamstown are still struggling for visibility. Going hungry everyday, standing on the streets and begging for money and food, cleaning our residences and digs; those are the people who should be whining and not the privileged journalism students who are pretty much guaranteed jobs, thanks to their Rhodes degree. Those are the people voices we should be giving prominence with the help of the art we are learning.

Regarding deadlines, this is yet another bone I can’t believe journalism students are still gnawing on this late in the year. The way I see it, unless these complainers start adjusting to the work load and meeting deadlines without acting like drama students just because they have to sacrifice one day of partying, the Journalism Department will be producing lazy graduates. I suppose deadlines are a lot like sieves; only allowing the refined to go through. It’s the more determined journalism students who’ve allowed themselves to be refined by the course and the perceived challenges that will meet the deadline without the drama.
Good grief, I honestly fear asking what these complainers were expecting when they applied for this course. I don’ think the Journalism department at Rhodes University designed a course aimed at producing Rat and Parrot dwellers but rather, “outstanding journalists”. I read my prospectus and those who missed that detail are perhaps far off from becoming the critical news producers we’re all being trained to become.

Shame, the complainers should perhaps relieve themselves of yet another deadline; forget the journalism two applications. That’s one less thing to do and maybe then journalism won’t be the cause of your social death.


SimoneSays said...

While you make some valid points, your argument is very one-sided.

You have assumed that all the students who complain about the journ course are party animals. What about the students who are struggling with depression, family problems or financial problems?

There are many reasons for students to complain about the work load and I think you should have explored them.

And, if so many students are complaining about the course then maybe there ARE some issues that need to be addressed with regards to work load and course content. In that case, students have every right to complain because they are not getting what they signed up for.

By ignoring the other sides to this issue, you are guilty of the very thing you are complaining about - whining.

Alex said...

Dear Rifilwe
I happen to disagree with your argument that many of the first year Journalism students complain about the course work and due dates given due to them having a negative effect on their social lives. I, together with four friends who also do JMS1, have not had much of a social life this whole year due to our various subject choices. Taking Journalism together with subjects such as English, Politics and Drama have proven to be lethal combinations that require constant dedication and many all-nighters from us. Together with Journalism, I am also a Drama 1 student and have spent the past few weeks of my life on centre stage rehearsing for our practical exams and not out at the Rat and Parrot getting sloshed. On top of the late night rehearsals I have had English and Classical Civilizations essays and readings as well as Journalism assignments ranging from 150 words to 1000 words. I understand that many people do not like to pull their weight and expect to be spoon fed answers but when many of us complain about some of the assignments given, it is mainly due to them clashing with other assignments from other courses and not out of shear laziness. I enjoy Journalism and its competitiveness, and understand that varsity is not just a joy ride but on top of essays and assignments, not all of us can produce written masterpieces within a 15 minute period as some lecturers might think. It is also important and healthy that students have fun at varsity whilst focusing on the academic aspects of varsity life, so going out with friends on a Friday night or playing for a sports team instead of spending the night studying might not be such a bad thing. Maybe you should interview more than one person who complains about Journalism and find out the reasons why we make such complaints before making such claims.