Saheli*: Musings and Observations
Tuesday, February 22, 2005
 
J-School

I didn't know Hunter Thompson had gone to Columbia's J-School. (He didn't, see below.) I'm always discovering some odd, unexpected fellow alum---the biggest surprise last year was the former head of the KGB, an absolutely charming man with whom I got to have dinner. Makes me wonder what will become of my seemingly sweet and normal class. I wonder if Thompson ever spoke at the school. I hope so, at least once. From this morning's SF Chronicle, a quote from Dean Lemann:
"Is he a hero at Columbia Journalism School?" asked Nicholas Lemann, the school's 50-year-old dean. "Sadly, I think no. He's much more a hero to my generation of journalists. He's sort of a giant, but I don't think rising young journalists are reading him with the same degree of admiration." Nonetheless, Lemann said, Thompson's legacy can be seen in the fact that he was one of those media stars created by the campaigns, much like author Theodore White, famed for his quadrennial "Making of the President" books. If White was the straightforward traditionalist, Thompson was the "weird, alternative type voice," Lemann said. "That was clearly his slot. And the closest thing to it (today) is the bloggers."
Considering Dean Lemann helped get the funding for the the first major official blog associated with the school (well, really with the Journalism review which it publishes), I wonder if this means blogs could become a bigger part of the curriculum. Kind of makes the whole mainstream media vs. bloggers fight a little topsy turvy. It would also be fun to have a workshop type course built around writers like Thompson and his less extreme fellow New Journalists. There might actually be time for such craziness in Lemann's new two year program.

Update: You know, the MTV.com article I cited above said "he studied Journalism at Columbia University." That's possible to do without going to the J-school. And not too many other obits are mentioning Columbia. So let's say I have no idea if if he went to Columbia, but it's a fascinating idea and I'll get back to you.

Update II: That's what I get for not reading MTV copy closely enough. At least the back of my brain caught up by the time I finished typing two grafs. In an email from Assistant Dean Melanie Huff, the Journalism Librarian Deborah Wassertzug found that, "According to the Columbia University Registrar's office, Hunter Stockton Thompson was enrolled in the School of General Studies from 1957-1958 and took the following classes: Short Story Writing I and Structure and Style II." He is not listed in the J-school's Alumni records. I'm not sure I call Short Story Writing I journalism, but that's oddly appropriate somehow.
 


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Saheli Datta started this when she was a journalism student at Columbia in New York. Now she lives in the Bay Area. *Old people call me R. New people, call me Saheli. Thanks! My homepage. Specifically, my links. Email me: Saheli [AT] Gmail [dot] Com

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