My major in undergraduate is Radio & Television. Once the decision of studying abroad has been made, I know of what I am going to pursue is either journalism or MBA. But why journalism?
Many told me this is a dying industry. There’s no need to spend tens of thousands of dollars learning something that has shrinking job market and notorious reputation of its decaying nature to the society. Many, including my professor, are afraid that pursuing journalism would nothing but distance my quixotic idealism with brutal reality since the news environment in Taiwan is rife with sensationalism, political expediency, or tawdry slander. (The truth is this doesn’t just happen in Taiwan, but everywhere)
It’s a matter of journalistic skills, not being a journalist.
Why I commit to journalism is the training of journalistic skills. What are journalistic skills? In short, it’s about how to tell a story by using multiple disciplines through various platforms, how to analyze, interpret numbers, data, o report and translate the information into comprehensible knowledge that the public has easy access to, how to communicate with others and myself, how to be humble in front of truth and intractable to the authority, and simply, how to be a better man…
These journalistic skills can be applied universally.
Interestingly, what the journalistic skills or journalistic temperament means here is echoed by Lee Bollinger, a legal scholar who turned the president of Columbia University. Lee writes here not of journalists but rather of professors:
“I would say the most valued trait is that of having the imaginative range and the mental courage to explore the full complexity of the subject. To set aside one’s preexisting beliefs, to hold simultaneously in one’s mind multiple angles of seeing things, to allow yourself to believe another point of view as you consider it…The stress is on seeing the difficulty of things, on being prepared to live closer than we are inclined to the harsh reality and of being willing to undermine even our common sense for the possibility of seeing something hidden. To be sure, that kind of extreme openness of intellect is exceedingly difficult to master, and, in a profound sense, we never do. Because it runs counter to many of our natural impulses, it requires both daily exercise and a community of people dedicated to keeping it alive.”
This mindset of dedication to truth, to the public good, to the honesty of self’s inadequacy is something I relish and something an intellectual should keeps in mind.