Jock Lauterer, Senior Lecturer and Director of the Carolina Community Media Project at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has returned to China for a third summer to teach Community Journalism at workshops from Beijing to Chongqing to Guangzhou.
Take a close look at this picture. No, not the back of my bald head. Look at the intense faces of these young Chinese journalism college students. Want to know what they ask me?
How can we write the stories we want to write without being fired?
How much money does your government give the newspapers?
How can we establish a sense of community when we live in these tall apartment towers where we don’t’ even know our neighbors?
And how about what a recent journalism major graduate told me darkly: “Only a fool becomes a journalist in China.”
There is much work to be done, here.
But as my oldest, (and in the popular text vernacular, BFF) buddy Steve Knowlton, distinguished professor at Dublin City University of Ireland, wrote me recently about journalism in China:, “How do you do good journalism if you don’t have a free press?” The answer, of course, is, eventually, community journalism.”
So there are those of us who are veterans of this trade — not wide-eyed, wet-behind-the-ears young idealists — but old “rode hard and put up wet” veterans who still believe, after all these years, that good journalism in a free world matters. That actually, in view of the glut of trash journalism online and on cable radio and TeeVee, good journalism matters now more than ever.
That’s my rant, and I’m stickin’ to it.
You can imagine how much fun we had during our exchange in that journalism class in Chongqing the other day, deep in the heart of China.