Straws in the wind: sublime and ridiculous

Jessica Lal

Jessica Lal

Almost at the same moment, two signals. I’m looking up a story that that was very big in the Indian media a few years ago, the murder of model Jessica Lal. Please note the prim note at the top from the Wikipedia edi- are we allowed to use the antique term “editors” any more? Perhaps Wikipersons would prefer to be “curators”. Anyhow they are being a bit severe with the author of the existing Lal entry: too much story-telling and not enough encyclopaedia-type detachment, they say. Crowd-sourcing comes in for a little correction and enhancement by the old-fashioned method applying standards. Bravely old-fashioned stuff. There’s a link through to a whole section on NPOV, or Neutral Point of View.

Then I see that the University of Staffordshire is offering a course in celebrity journalism. I guess that most journalism courses at one time or another look at celebrity inyterviewing; City University’s magazine course certainly does. But a whole course? Is this a good use of taxpayers’ money? There are some kinds of training that may just not be necessary or important. It’s hardly a complete justification to say that this will help the university’s graduates get jobs.

Put these two signals beside eachother and compare. Over at Wikipedia, once thought to be part of a digital world threatening journalism, someone cares about improving editorial standards. At the University of Staffordshire, some of the least edifying and memorable aspects of newspaper journalism are being enshrined in the curriculum.


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