Friday, September 20, 2013

1229 The Pundit Academy

1229 The Pundit Academy

“It was 1948. My father looked at me.  He was quiet for a moment.  Then he said ‘they pay you to TALK?!’”  --Barry Gray in 1990.

The nation’s colleges are missing an important revenue stream.  They should be teaching punditry.

Once was, people who were paid to tell their opinions had backgrounds in whatever they were paid to talk about.  

Reporters graduated into columnists after spending years in the real world.  Experts in this or that would, after long years, sell their expertise to newspapers and radio and television.

These days working as a cop for ten minutes turns you into a law enforcement pundit.  Anyone who has a law degree can be a legal pundit. Holding office for a couple of years turns you into a political analyst.  A buy-it-yourself Dr. of Divinity makes you into a religion expert and having children makes you a parenting authority.

There are no standards.  And as colleges have declared themselves the new standard setters for real journalism (there’s little on the job training these days. Not enough trainers, not enough time,) so can they declare themselves standard setters for opinion, analysis and bloviators.

The model should be similar to a police academy.  A recruit undergoes tests.  Gets a uniform.  Goes out on patrol with an experienced pundit. Takes classes.  Graduates.  

No one offers a Bachelor of Punditry, or a masters or a doctorate.

And the biggest users of pundits, the cable networks, aren’t doing much training, either.

Cash strapped colleges should cash in on this untapped market.  Almost no one goes into journalism to be a journalist.  They want to be either TV stars or commentators, jobs we used to have to earn.

Or maybe some of us who do this kind of work should band together start a trade school, kind of like DeVry or Mrs. Skinners or the Connecticut School of Broadcasting. Yes, that’s it.

Offer an Associate’s degree in caterwauling.  Or maybe just a certificate of completion.  With the right faculty, “our” students would learn things they’d never get from Columbia or the Medill School or any of their lesser imitators.

Let’s start filming the commercials.  Worry about certification later.

We need a name. Hmmmm.  The Socrates Institute?  The Atlantic School of Opinion Leadership?  The California Pacific Punditry Practice Program?

Someone suggested “Harvard” or “Princeton” or “Yale” but we find that those names have already been used.  


--A belated happy birthday to the New York Times, age 162. For 109 of those years they endorsed mostly Republican candidates.  Liberal media, indeed.

--Lost in the noise over the DC shootings, the lunatic congress preparing to cut off our nose to spite our faces and pope’s call to reality on social issues was the reversal of Tom Delay’s 2010 conviction on money laundering charges.  Turns out, says the ruling, that the kind of money laundering Delay did isn’t illegal in Texas.  Look for Gov. Perry to add this to his circuit riding pitch to move all business to Texas.

I’m Wes Richards.  My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2013

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