My students chuckle or roll their eyes when I use the quaint expressions of old fashioned journalism. I try to hippen it up…”Your kicker’s got to rock!” (Meaning: The last line of your story must be powerful, must end with a bang, not a whimper.)
This reminds me of how often I must translate words, concepts, skills from a practical, newsroom setting into the classroom. That reminds me of the differences between the the news business and the college-teaching business. That reminds me that, in my opinion, neither should be a business. And THAT reminds me of the retirement parties I attended earlier this summer, where faculty members ended their 30-year careers at this undefunded, underperforming, underrated, oddly run, land grant state university. The parties were long on the best of Oregon — wild salmon, Pinot Noir, local herbed goat cheese, organic greens picked that day from nearby farms; cool, breezy evenings beneath Evergreens of all persuasions. The parties were also long (winded) on speeches. What’s striking was how civilized these endings were. Folks who’d done G-d’s work for 30 or more years, teaching those 8 a.m. surveys of 200 or more students — many of whom were up all night working at the mill or the local pub just to pay for school, many of whom are the first in their family to got to college, some in their fifth or sixth year because they have to drop out to work for their families, some who come straight from picking in the fields at dawn to hear your take on whatever; writing endless letters to Financial Aid begging for money on behalf of students. After 30-odd years of that, they got toasted. And toasted. And congratulated and celebrated. The pay is for crap. The lifestyle, they tell you, more than makes up for it. But we all raised our Pinot to their good work and big hearts and new lives. That’s their kicker.
And THAT brings me back TO THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE. As I’ve mentioned, many of the most revered journalists around recently volunteered to leave after 20, 30-odd years of service. And what was their goodbye? On Friday at 2 pm they were told to pack up and exit the building by 5pm.
Now that’s a kicker.