PUSHBACK, MEDP 299.47, Fall, 2009 – Part I

AKA Feature Writing

In many ways, this was a typical D:F/M advanced news writing class. The students were talented, all could write. Yet … !

Sufficient anonymity here so that only the instructor is recognizable, thus, allowing a frank description of the class experience without sullying the visage of enrolled students (some who were a little whacked).

It has been easy to besmirched the image of Hunter/CUNY students, recalling the hatchet jobs done, primarily in the past, by mainstream news media like the NY Daily News and the New York Post working, in this writer’s opinion, with calumnious joy, precision and help from The Manhattan Institute (a sleazed right-wing think tank ever there was one). Hunterites/CUNYites (usually behind the scenes [as in department meetings or casual conversations not so casual]) also make contributions.

There is no wish here to join the posse of of besmirchers and no wish to be perceived as one. There are systemic forces and institutional practices at work, creating a dynamic that makes students easy targeting for scapegoating. The defamation has made it difficult for frank discussion yet allows behind the scenes festering, which happens too much in this instructor’s opinion, reflected in such “things” as an academic department eschewing academic standards on the grounds that the students, especially students of color, would be unable to live up to any reasonable standards and expectations. This has led to a steady stream, in this instructor’s opinion, of instructors not much better than carpetbaggers looking for easy bucks and rip offs as they saunter into classrooms supposedly to teach.

So …

Eccentricities, That’s for Sure

NC: Transfer student. First journalism class at a CUNY two-year was catalogued a news writing course but, of course, there wasn’t much writing, that is, much rewriting. Real writing is about rewriting and that demands more energy and time than many instructors want to invest. Her instructor conducted mock interview sessions requiring the students to interview him and then write news stories that were never rewritten. This feeble attempt to emulate verisimilitude is not uncommon. It is also seriously flawed. And very unfair to students serious about journalism and those serious about writing.

The out-of-class assignments in MEDP 299.47 stumped her at first; performance early in the semester indicated that she might have trouble passing. Subsequent assessments: That she was capable of a low grade like a C+. Final assessment: Pretty much aced the class.

CE: A miscreant ever there was one. Started the semester strong with a game plan apparent in the early weeks but its ferocity was underestimated: Mock the instructor, essentially to throw him off key, upset his balance, make him falter, soften him up for the endgame, that being a passing grade for a F performance. That ploy failing initially to get anticipated results segued to direct insults, as in, QMfE, “You don’t know what you’re talking about” and “That’s not true.” That technique, unsuccessful,  followed by menacing in manner, growling in voice.

A denizen in a netherland where he couldn’t tell the truth even if the truth could set him free, the Fs mounted as bluffs and strategies failed, shamefully. And then, of course, the subsequent, when all else failed, ignominious sounds of one who pursued the path of irresolute miscreant:  Whimper, whimper, whimpering in falsetto. F.

AD: Transfer student. From outside CUNY. Stumped by out-of-class assignments. Early assessment: Wasn’t going to pass. Subsequent assessments: Just might pass. Final assessment: Did very well.

FK: Started off slow, lethargic. Turned in mediocre work because, this writer believes, mediocrity was accepted in other classes. Gradually improved. Said this was her most demanding class thus far as a junior –uh oh! Improved significantly as the semester proceeded, did quite well.

End Part I

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