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    Saying Goodbye

    Angela Wright is leaving for a new opportunity, but her impact on SLIS won’t be forgotten.

July 2017

From the Dean . . .


I’ve never been big on farewells.  This is my last scheduled dean’s note for eNews.  Tom Reichert moves into the dean’s office on August 1.  (I must get packed.) Tom’s an advertising and public relations guru.  He may take a different approach to our monthly newsletter to college alumni and friends.

Over the years, though I’ve lost track of how many, I’ve used these notes to share thoughts on the college, our students and faculty, and the state of our professions.  I could, I suppose, comment here on the current war of words between President Trump and my former employer, CNN, where I spent more than 20 years as a Washington correspondent.

These are strange and challenging times.  I loathe — strong word that I use rarely and advisedly — the demeaning label of “fake news” for anything that is less than sycophantic.  The presidents I covered — Reagan, Bush 41, Clinton and Bush 43 —did not always see eye to eye with the press.  But there was a healthy mutual respect.

Carl Bernstein, the Washington Post’s Watergate news breaker, says journalists seek to provide “the best obtainable version of the truth.”  In our Fourth of July celebration of the nation’s independence, the words of the U.S. Constitution reminded that we strive to “form a more perfect union.” I would interpret that to mean moving toward perfection while accepting there will be imperfections along the way.

Journalism has long been called the first draft of history.  Today’s truth may not be tomorrow’s.  The facts or the interpretation of them may alter as a story progresses.  (I can cite examples.)  You still can’t manufacture facts or quotes or imagine stories.  Intent is a concern in a time of advocacy and partisan journalism.  There is a place and a long tradition for journalism and editorial content that takes a position.  But it’s still fact based.  I would contend, though, that excessive partisanship of the sort we’re seeing, is something other than journalism.

My view is that “fake news” is an oxymoron.  If it’s fake, it’s not news.  If it’s news, it had better not be fake.

Nothing fake about our sentiments here.  I’ve enjoyed these 15 years as dean, the faculty, staff and students I’ve encountered, and the friends and acquaintances I’ve made among you.  I’ve eschewed the word retirement in favor of reorienting, repurposing, retooling, refreshing.  But I’m ceding this turf.

Rebekah Friedman and webmaster Patty Hall are my colleagues who produce eNews for the college.  I kibbitz for these 400 or so words each month.  And tweet in 140-character breaths @cjbsc.  I’ll keep working on that. 

Thanks for the opportunity.