St. Mike's J-School Gives Away Books; Chaos Does Not Ensue | Off Message

St. Mike's J-School Gives Away Books; Chaos Does Not Ensue

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Nobody enjoys celebrating the decline of traditional journalism more than journalists. We revel in the knowledge that the skills we learned just a few years ago are already antiquated, that a glorious past has faded into an uncertain future. So naturally, we dropped all our afternoon plans yesterday when we heard that the Saint Michael's College Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts Department was giving away old journalism books on a first-come, first-served basis.

College administrators apparently decided to give their journalism students a glimpse of the uncertainty that awaits them on the outside: They decided to boot the department from its comfy home in the Bergeron Education Center and relocate it to smaller digs in the basement of another building. A health and wellness center will take its place.

A dispossessed department giving away antiquated tools full of outdated wisdom for a fading industry? We could not have been more excited.

I rushed over to campus to make sure I would have a decent spot in line when doors opened at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. Good thing I did.

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Once inside, I was overwhelmed by the bounty that awaited me. Here is a small sampling of the treasures, which remain free to the public until Friday inside Bergeron, provided they don't all get scooped up before then.

I think it's the artisanal binding, and not the cutting-edge subject matter, that really makes this book leap off the shelf. But I could be convinced otherwise.

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I know a few people over at Vermont Public Radio who were hired from traditional newspaper jobs. Now I know how they made the transition.

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So many times, I've been chatting with a Burlington cop outside some Church Street crime scene, shooting the shit, hoping he would give me the skinny about drone activities in the tribal areas outside Waziristan. Never got any solid info. Where was this book when I was in J-School?

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I'm not sure I'd learn anything from this one. My friends in television told me a long time ago that nothing helps goose ratings more than a huge "boner."

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During our Wednesday staff meeting, my news editor shot down my totally amazing story pitch about drug addicts committing unarmed robberies. You think he will figure out who left this on his desk? 

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Let me summarize this next book: You will make twice the pay as you did at your old newspaper job, while working half the hours and experiencing one-third the stress. You will stare into the mirror every night, momentarily shaken by the realization that you no longer have a soul. And you will sleep well, knowing that you have made a wise choice.

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At my former paper, we had a few old-timers who had worked at big metro dailies and loved to talk about the golden age of journalism. What they really meant was that there was a time when big papers had so many reporters that they could afford to let one go on book leave for a year or two to write something like this.

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