Monday, May 10, 2010

'There's a great future for you': Studies in Crap presents 1965's 'Your Career in Journalism'

Your Career in Journalism

yourcareerjournalismcover2.jpgAuthor: M.L. Stein
Date: 1965
Publisher: Julian Messner, Inc.
Discovered at: Salvation Army, Olathe
The Cover Promises: Permanent, established institutions are not immune to change, so one of these pictures has some chicks in it.

Representative Quotes:
  • "The journalist enjoys good standing in his community. He is even likely to be held in awe." (page 47).
  • "The day may not be far off when a city editor will say to a reporter, 'Check your space gear. You're going to the moon.'" (page 86).

The easy thing would be for your Crap Archivist to treat M.L. Stein's perversely optimistic Your Career in Journalism like I would Edgar Whisenant's 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988 or Rudy Giuliani's Leadership -- as Crap proved so absurd by time that its chief value comes from strip-mining it for hilarious quotes.

That's especially tempting thanks to jewels like these:

  • "If you are a college graduate in journalism, you may land a job before you even leave the campus."
  • "The story that a reporter worried and sweated over will be read by thousands and perhaps millions of people who will be informed, enlightened or amused. ... He has prestige and influence that most persons can never hope to attain."


And there's this, on landing that first big break:
  • "By far the best idea is to go directly to a newspaper and ask the city editor for a job."

Or this goofy thought:
  • "There is an accepted tenet in the newspaper business that an experienced copyreader can always get a job."

Experienced copyreaders? But it's so much easier to crowdsource those jobs to online commenters!

Easy as it is to laugh at Stein's optimism, remember that he writes with all the certainty of 1965, the last possible moment when it still made sense to hold an absolute faith in journalism, government, or most other chunks of the all-American bedrock. (These also included segregation, Frank Sinatra, and the idea that youth culture wasn't the only culture.)

Shocking Detail:
Sometimes, Stein seems admirably forward-thinking. He writes, "The door is no longer closed against you, girls, and you can often compete with men for the same positions at the same salary."

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