What qualities should a good journalist possess?
Matthew Arnold, an English poet and cultural critic, said: “Journalism is literature in a hurry”. But I can’t agree with this claim! Just the opposite, a professional journalist must be literate; he/she must have a good linguistic feeling. As for me, I am going to be a highly qualified expert in journalism. What qualities must a real journalist have? First of all, journalism is a wide field of action, so a professional needs to be very versatile. Moreover, one of the important qualities is being trustworthy, because our primary mission is to tell people the truth about the world they live in. Journalism is called “the fourth estate” because it is very powerful, so an expert must know how to influence his readers or viewers. Courage is also necessary for a journalist in harsh and insecure situations. Nowadays you need to be pushy if you want to win, because our modern life is moving too fast and it wouldn’t wait for you. In my opinion, journalists who work in political sphere should be tolerant. They also need to be sociable and easy-going, as they work with people. Sometimes they need to be jolly to dispose people to them. Journalists should have their own point of view, they can’t be just a ‘support for a microphone’. As for me, I think I possess some of these qualities, that is why I’ve chosen this profession. For me journalism is not just a profession, it is a way of life. I’m ready to work in this sphere and I want to make a progress. Staying put is not for me!
I believe that to become an expert in any sphere one has to have a pack of standard qualities. Any good professional will be a well-educated person, interested in his/her job, hardworking, energetic and honest. But what is good for a journalist can be bad or useless for a ‘closed spaces investigator’ (if you want to know what a ‘closed spaces investigator’ is – read more!). Life makes a journalist a very special creature. Journalists deal with a lot of people, they should be sociable and tolerant. As they often find themselves in tricky situations, they should be quick-witted. As they are public people they have to be stylish and friendly. Journalists work with words, so it is important for them to be intelligent, bright and inventive. Journalists earn their living by story-making so good imagination and creativity will help them.
Most of these special qualities can be absolutely destructive for a closed spaces investigator’s career. These people make spaceships and test them. To do it they have to live in those spaceships for long periods of time. There they have no opportunity to talk, so to become a specialist you should be an unsociable person. And another reason for them to be reserved is that the projects they carry out are top secret and they must keep their mouths shut. It will be very strange if such people are friendly. They don’t really care about their appearance, don’t need any intelligence and creativity, and they simply have no time for such things. As you see these professions are quite the opposite. If a person has all the qualities of a good journalist it’ll be impossible for him/her to become a good ‘closed spaces investigator’ and vice versa.
Have you ever seen a home without a TV set? In the modern civilized world expeditions can be sent to search for such a home. TV has become a family member, which is actually perfect. It doesn’t cry at nights like an infant – if you wish, you can decrease the volume. It doesn’t ask for a new fur-coat or shoes, like a wife. It doesn’t snore like a husband and it’s always at home, unlike a husband. It doesn’t need food and toilet, like a pet, and you don’t have to wake up at 6.00 to walk it, like your dog.
On every hand TV is perfect, but the problem is that it does not have a soul, unlike a child, a wife and a dog, or even -- a husband. Spending time with an inanimate ‘friend’ causes your own gradual ‘inanimation’. “Chatting” with TV becomes an addiction. People start ignoring real life and real persons and they continue their life with a TV-set. But, fortunately, nowadays this problem is almost solved. A lot of people complain that TV has become a horrible and primitive medium, advocating cruelty and immorality. So they reject watching TV and turn to other achievements of modern technologies – computers, smart phones, mp3 players etc, etc… Well, the problem seems to be unsolvable.
I think fashion is really an induced epidemic. The crowd says: “This is fashionable!” Then everybody is mad about it. And I can see, hear and feel this ‘height of fashion’ here, there, and everywhere! It gets on my nerves so, that I am ready to kill myself only not to see it! I can’t stand silly chats about fashion. People often become the slaves of fashion. Their slogan is: “Every girl must wear pink dresses and listen to pop-music”. Some idiots ask me from time to time: “Why are you so different?” I always reply: “Because I hate to follow fashion blindly”. ‘No-fashion persons’ are free, but others want to make them the part of their ‘cloned herd’. I wear, listen to, watch only what I choose, because I appreciate my freedom. Sometimes I happen to be in fashion; sometimes I am out of it. My style can change with my mood. But I would never wear anything pink! I am saying NO to the “pink of fashion”!
On Fashion (2)
Sometimes people look crazy in their attempts to follow fashion. Besides, fashion in general (arts, science, high-tech etc) seems to be a business. That, as I understand, is the meaning of Bernard Show’s statement. It irritates me that today many dumb things become the subjects for discussion and delight, though there are others, much more deserving it, in my humble opinion. However, the worthy things don't often become known to the wide circle of people because of the modest means of their authors. But I don't approve of the cynical people who admire fashion-makers: producers, publishers, journalists. They say: "The public is happy with what we feed them" and they keep giving the people their poor stuff. On the one hand, such people are witty (if their "plans” work), but on the other hand they are selfish, if not to say immoral.
Talking about clothes I can say that there is nothing in common between what people really wear and what is being created by the "Houses of High Fashion". As for me, I mostly meet people whose clothes look pretty much the same and are not always neat. However clothes may be an effective way of self-expression. I like to dress like a freak, just to show that I don't have anything in common with the majority of the people for whom fashion is a mark of social status and not creativity and self-expression. For me the attention of other people is not as important as my own opinion. At present the domination of brands doesn't irritate me so much as before. I understand that the true talent will be appreciated some time or another – as it happened with the talent of Bernard Show.
Cheating has existed throughout human history. It’s not something new. It only becomes more spread amongg not merely teens but also adults. It isn’t proved but I suppose that even in the Middle Ages pupils cheated a lot. What do we associate with the word “school”? Of course, it is school bell, our classmates and tasty buns in the canteen. But it is also our first cheating during the break and sometimes bad grades given by the teachers who caught us copying our classmates` homework.
Of course, it’s a deception but lying is a part of human nature. As for students, who cheat, it’s just a way for them to save time. “We are young, energetic and beautiful, we have our whole life ahead, so why should we spend our priceless time writing some huge term-papers and projects? We can’t be bothered to do it!” However burdensome tasks are an inherent part of our education so we are trying to find the ways to cheat on our professors and to get away with it. Of course cheating very bad like most types of lies.
But it’s necessary to add that cheating is an art. Not everyone can do it so that his professor shouldn’t expose them. To cheat competently you need to explore your professor’s behavior, his habits and his frame of mind. It’s really a great proficiency which you will master during the whole period of socializing with your professor.
It is not too long since I got my first personal computer. I was only 7 years old and it was just a perfect gift for me. Time flashed by quickly, and gradually I got addicted to my PC. Some time ago net-surfing came into use. The growth of computer industry is enormous, and recently the latest inventions started to do some work instead of people. These days you don’t have to spend a lot of time on education and getting a lot of skills because computers can do things for you. Moreover the technologies allow us to create robots which can be programmed to perform any job. It is curious how quickly Japanese scientists are inventing more and more useful gadgets. Probably while billions of teenagers are sitting in front of their computers playing online games for 12 hours a day, scientists or programmers are creating something totally new and weird.
On the one hand, we won’t have any future without computers. On the other hand, wouldn’t the creation of smart machines be a threat for the human race? I have noticed that people are getting so lazy that they are even up to buy a robot to do some vacuum cleaning.
Considering the fact that computers are really helpful and useful, people shouldn’t forget about their own abilities and shouldn’t become the slaves of machines. Moreover ‘the digital mind’ depends on electricity and if someday there is a blackout, I can’t imagine what can happen.There are lots of SciFi films and books on the subject, and it is really cool to watch the robots destroying our planet. I hope that such things won’t become real.We should think twice before giving the computer industry so much power. Let’s try to keep our planet safe and clean!
What mass medium would you prefer to work in? Why? What qualities and qualifications will you need for your future job of a journalist?
There are many kinds of mass media in modern world: magazines, newspapers, internet-editions, information agencies. I would like to work in a newspaper or a magazine. I have been dreaming about becoming a journalist since I was six or seven years old. And I always thought about a ‘classic’ image of a woman-journalist: it is the woman working in a newspaper and writing serious materials on political matters. This image still appeals to me. But now it is my mature wish and, I hope, it will come true in the foreseeable future. I want to work in a newspaper because I like to put my thoughts into words. It is a wonderful feeling when you understand that your text is a logical, integral piece of writing. When you see that the work you have done is perfect, you are on cloud nine. A job in a periodical gives you a chance to write regularly. Thus, your skill to make good materials gradually improves. However, in order to succeed in writing you have to be very smart and a bit pushy. Your materials must be interesting and influential. Then your editor will like them and publish them. A good journalist is a witty, inventive and original person who can find a way out in any situation. Only in that case his or her material will be ‘sweet and delicious.’ A reader will gulp it, ‘lick his fingers’ and say: “I want some more!”
On the future of books...
All the people in the world know that books play a very important role in our life and education. We can often see people of different ages who read in the metro, in the streets and even in restaurants or cafes. But yearly statistics show that people cease to read a lot. Yes, they do read, but they prefer “easy literature”: magazines with glossy pictures, detective stories and anecdote collections. People do not read classic literature any more. Only pupils bother about the books by Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, etc. because they study these writers at school. Nowadays people prefer logging on the Internet and reading the news or little stories there to buying newspapers or books. At present e-books and audio books tend to replace old-time paper versions. These types of books are much more comfortable for trips and holidays. We can load the text into our portable computer or mobile phone and easily read or listen to any book, without carrying heavy volumes there and back. There are a lot of audio books in shops these days. I think that audio books are very good for the people who can perceive information by ear. Although nowadays we have the Internet and modern technologies, we use real books and encyclopedias all the same. And we even still use libraries a lot. What we can find in the Internet – is mere and pure information, and the book is the ancient and sacred bearer of knowledge!
Why should people study history?
A famous Chinese philosopher Confucius said: “Study the past if you wish to define the future”. Some people think: "Why should we study history? History consists of the events that passed centuries ago…" The answer is simple: If you don’t know history, you can’t understand your past, you can’t explain your present, and you can’t predict your future.
If you know history well, you can avoid many mistakes. There is nothing new in our own lives – all the mistakes that were made in the 17th century can be made again today For example, nobody could conquer and dominate Afganistan... Not a nation in the world history, neither the Mongols in the 13th century, nor the British Empire in the 19th century. I can give you one more example from the history of Russia. Napoleon Bonaparte lost his army in the winter of 1812, because he didn’t realize that he was making war against the people of a northern country. Why didn’t he consider the experience of the Teutonic Knights… The Crusaders failed the battle on Chudskoe Lake in 1242 because of the weak ice on the lake. Their armours were too heavy for the ice which was breaking and finally that killed most of them. 120 years after Napoleon Hitler made the same mistake...and also failed. These are only three examples taken from world’s history. However, I think it’s enough to understand: We must not turn our back on history!
"Computers are useless. They can only give you answers"
Well, if Pablo Picasso had lived to enjoy all the benefits which modern computers give to the people of art, he would have probably changed his mind. Nowadays computers can offer a person boundless opportunities in any field of action. You are able to find anything you want with the help of a PC. Nevertheless, the problem is: "Do you know what you want to find?" In other words, what are you asking for? Computers are machines and their artificial mind is quire "narrow". So a human's mind is there to pose questions. To my mind, this is the point where Picasso was absolutely right. Moreover, there are questions to which no machine has an answer. Computers' “brains” are stuffed with the info that only people can provide. As for the people – they don't always know the whole truth about our world. Despite it, computers make our life easier and more comfortable as they save time and effort. They are really useful in white collar-jobs, entertainment and even .... in private life. It's silly to underestimate their role when all the banks, businesses, hospitals and state organizations are computerized – and it is very practical.
Nevertheless, you shouldn't look at the progress through rose-coloured spectacles! It's rather nice to use computers, but you mustn't let your mind be mechanized and you should not become a robot.
Alyona Dounina (now a 1st year student of the Department of Journalism of MSU)
We lie from time to time. Do you think our life would become better if we are absolutely truthful?
I don’t think that “lying” is a very urgent issue because it’s a routine thing – all people lie and we all know about it. People have been lying since the time of Adam and Eve. Children lie to their parents because they are afraid of being punished. Employees lie to their bosses in order to retain their job. Even religious people can lie to their priests promising they won’t sin anymore. I am sure that even an imbecile knows how to tell lies. Being a liar is not very good but it is much worse to be an absolutely honest person. Lying is a sort of the safety measure. People who don’t tell lies are usually unsuspecting and vulnerable. Don’t think that I am an a terrible liar! Certainly lie is something which allows you to keep your head straight in some difficult situations. Ralph Waldo Emerson once noticed: “Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies”. This funny quote shows that truth is nothing without lies, lies take a very big part in our everyday life and we are used to the situation. There are two kinds of people: those who just can’t live without lies and those who lie only in critical situations. These people lie in order to put everything right and it is not bad - good results are not always achieved by decent actions. Lying is not so bad when you have the sense of proportion; never let lies be your master because there are a lot more ways of gaining positive results.
Ilya Vorobyov (now a 1st year student of the Department of Journalism of MSU)
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