A Tempest in a Teapot But a Tempest No Less – Part 3

Most Film and Media dept. faculty know that Gregg can raise issues in ways that are contentious.” — Blanca Vasquez, Adjunct Instructor.

My reply was 761 words of pointed insights.

A five-point summary of it follows.

One, I believed that the student winners needed to be treated with respect instead of being relegated to the shadows as they usually have been, as in, Quotation Marks for Effect, “You will be seen but not heard … and thank you very much.”

Two, as a former serious promoter of the Aronson (I once coordinated a Center for Communication panel discussion for the award after I had learned that the Center did panel discussions for the prestigious Polk Awards at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University), I pointed out that the award had been poorly promoted for years (especially after I stopped participating in the promotion but I didn’t say that in my email reply, that’s for sure. And it seemed to have acquired a kind of flimflam element or maybe I should say D:F/M smoke-and-mirrors tint or maybe it had, by osmosis, been influenced by good ol D:F/M Chimera, but I didn’t write any of that in the email, that’s for sure).

Before attendance began petering out, or, perhaps, before anyone noticed how it was PETERING,* the Aronson award attracted audiences of 200+ and was held in the Lang Auditorium. In recent years, it’s been held in small rooms with a plurality of students in attendance, students who know little of Aronson but attend nevertheless – because they are required to. At a strategic pause in the award ceremony, the students leave, resulting in a staggering visage of the PETERING** effect: Because the students are not required to stay for the whole event they seem to flee not in panic but in relief. 

Three, the student award was started several years ago to promote interest in the social justice journalism of James Aronson but the student award doesn’t mention social justice journalism. There is no description of the award. It’s just this journalism award that gives two-hundred bucks. I once suggested to Peter Parisi that social justice journalism should be considered as part of the curriculum in some way – I raised this at a department meeting years ago – but he wasn’t interested. PP is the colleague actively involved in organizing the Aronson awards. 

Four, some students years ago started complaining that the fix was in. That suspicion plus shenanigans (one being Peter Parisi [in a pique of narcissistic jealousy, probably] telling an Aronson audience that the WORD was a department project) led to me no longer contributing nor attending the ceremony. This year, however, it seemed appropriate to suggest that sponsors consider a more transparent selection process.

Five, a point I belabor but don’t want to belabor here: Too many of the journalism news writing classes in D:F/M are shameful, that is, the students are not advised nor taught nor learn that writing requires rewriting and none of the introductory classes, except mine, require students to publish articles so that they can learn to generate portfolios of the kind that the Aronson organizers say are necessary for students to participate. In fact most of the advanced writing classes, except all mine and a so-called neighborhood reporting class, don’t emphasize the importance of rewriting nor developing portfolios. Portfolios are necessary if students want to compete for the best internships and jobs. And the dynamics of developing a portfolio of published works can be an invigorating and compelling learning experience for instructor and teacher.

So, I shudder at this possibility: That the Aronson may come to be perceived as a D:F/M Thimblerig? JA would be turning over in his grave if that were to become imagined.

Nevertheless, I was expecting some disgruntlement and got one from an adjunct, Cindy Rodriguez.

Say, who?


End of Part III of VI


*Apologies for the inside joke.
**Really, really for the inside joke but I couldn’t resist.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.