It’s an often forgotten truth: there is a stark divide between the literary and journalistic culture. Arguably, the two can and should be separated academically, but here at WC, the lack of a journalistic presence on a campus that is renowned for its writing culture is ironic.
Admittedly, absence of a journalism culture on campus is also frustrating. Lectures by journalists like Steve Isenberg’s this coming Monday are few and far between, The Elm went an entire semester without an official advisor, and few students know about the recently refurbished Publications House.
However, there is certainly a desire for campus news, which goes hand in hand with the insatiable thirst for local news anywhere. This past Friday by two p.m., there wasn’t an Elm to be found on campus. The repeated mockery on campus that “nothing happens here” doesn’t match up with how many students, faculty, staff, and Chestertown residents grabbed a copy.
Journalism has just as long and prestigious a history as literature, as the Elm staff and the Presidential Fellows discovered while visiting the Newseum in D.C. this past weekend. Six floors were packed with breathtaking and heartbreaking exhibits, and the visual display of journalism’s impact on society was truly inspiring. Many of us journalists had forgotten the importance of delivering the news.
Isenberg is visiting campus to tell the story of legendary journalist Murray Kempton, and bringing with him his own impressively diverse career. Isenberg worked as a chief-of-staff to a New York City mayor, a professor, and as a major publisher before becoming the executive director of the American branch of PEN. And guess what? He majored in English at Berkeley. His education in literature, a liberal arts education no less, prepared him for an incredible career in journalism.
Yes, we would love to have a journalism department on campus, but people like Steve Isenberg prove that having intensive training in a college journalism program doesn’t necessarily equal success. Opportunities like visiting the Newseum remind us of the widespread impact of journalism, an impact that often goes unnoticed.
The Elm isn’t asking for praise, but we are asking for support. Visits from top journalists are fantastic opportunities for this campus to get into the world of reporting, and understand how much it affects everyone.
There are so many talented writers on this campus who need to give journalism a chance.