I had a great time speaking to and visiting with the AP government students at Nevada Union High School this week. (I’ve been a few times before over the years, including once to Bear River). What a refreshing, respectful and thoughtful group! We are lucky to have them in our community.
Most are college bound, and we can only hope they will return to our community. Sadly, many probably will not. “There aren’t enough good jobs,” as one student said in a matter-of-fact tone.
We had a wide ranging discussion about the media and politics, including the U.S. Presidential campaign, which most all of them found ugly and divisive. Many of them agreed that Trump had inadvertently helped mainstream feminism with his unruly behavior and comments. They were sad that the campaign had laid bare some of the misogyny, racism and xenophobia in our culture.
I was reminded how adults were setting a bad example for our youth (not the other way around).
In a brief presentation I ran through what I thought led to the state of political and media coverage today, starting with Nixon’s Checkers’ speech in the ’50s (an example of appealing directly to the electorate on TV with “pathos”); Watergate in the ’70s (corrupt politicians); presidential hopeful Gary Hart’s affair with Donna Rice on the yacht “Monkey Business” in the ’80s (political sex scandals); as well as the advent of Fox News (“narrowcasting” political news) and the internet in the ’90s (social media). They added their own list, which included the pressure to get “hits” on the internet, and the media as a “business.”
On the local front, we talked about Measure “B” — even a cursory walk around campus confirmed the need to wholeheartedly support it. Shame on the curmudgeons who are walled off from our youth and opposing it! A tour of campus would be highly educational. They are doing our youth a disservice by opposing it, often with half-truths and outright fabrication.
We also talked about the litany of state propositions on the ballot. The students correctly observed that the propositions could be misleading and oversimplified and gave the legislature an excuse to avoid difficult issues. Most of them seemed to support the legalization of marijuana — but they were fully aware of some of the pitfalls.
Some hoped it would lead to more respectful “trimmigrants.” One cited examples of out-of-town trimmigrants “bathing” in local grocery store bathrooms, with paper towels at the wash basin.
I discussed how the path of journalism — hopping from smaller papers to bigger ones, if possible — had been turned on its head by the internet and social media. (The market cap of Facebook is $375 billion, compared to $120 million for newspaper chains like McClatchy).
Many journalism graduates now go straight to the multimedia departments of larger newspapers — or to Facebook, Yahoo, or even marketing in high-tech. Others became authors, thanks to self-publishing. I brought along a Northwestern University journalism school magazine, so they could see the “new” opportunities. That seemed to excite them more than working at a smaller newspaper.
The students were good copy editors too. While waiting for the afternoon class, I grabbed a copy of The Union newspaper to pass the time in the office and noticed that “millennials” was misspelled on the front cover of the Home section. “Millenials (sic),” it read. How ironic, given that I was at a high school.
As it turned out most of the millennials knew that the word was spelled with two “n’s,” not one, when I brought it up. Good going! Thanks for inviting me.