Nick Clooney: The unfrozen caveman lawyer of journalism professors

From the Cincinnati Enquirer:
Nick Clooney is as restless as a college freshman leaving home for the first time. “I’m nervous about this. I’m very nervous,” says Clooney, 74, about starting a new career, teaching journalism at American University in Washington, D.C.
…Becoming a college professor has finally forced him to buy a personal computer. Until a few weeks ago, he had never sent an e-mail, watched YouTube or looked up something on Wikipedia.

You know, I’d probably be nervous too if I was teaching a subject and wasn’t up-to-date with advancements in the field.

This isn’t to say that Cloooney doesn’t have any journalistic bona fides – he’s been a television anchor and newspaper columnist, after all. Since the tenets of journalism haven’t changed much since Clooney’s heyday, he might have plenty to teach the young turks about responsibility, conscience, and ethics. And since, according to the above article, Clooney’s only teaching opinion writing and a course based on his 2002 book, Movies That Changed Us, he probably won’t do too much damage.

But the way we report and deliver the news has radically changed, even in just the last ten years. So having a journo professor who doesn’t regularly use a computer is like hiring an economics professor whose never studied the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Recently, a group of journalism professors came to Time Out Chicago‘s offices and spoke with our publisher, editor-in-chief, managing editor and myself about the business of putting out a magazine. Everyone had recommendations, and we told them what we look for in prospective writers. One of the things I told them was to make sure that they make the use of the Internet and its tools a component of the curriculum. While the jury’s still out on a complete set of best practices when it comes to how newspapers’ and magazines’ Web sites can benefit from the use of blogs, Twitter, online video, and social networking tools, it’s obvious that they’re already a part of the reporting process, and anyone who comes out of academia with a working knowledge of them will be a better candidate for any journalism job than someone who doesn’t.

Think about it: Clooney is teaching a class on opinion writing, and, based on the above, it’s safe to assume he probably doesn’t read blogs. Not that blogs should be the model for journalistic opinion – in most cases, they shouldn’t be. But that’s all the more reason for Clooney to be familiar with them, so he can compare and contrast the form with journalism and – imagine! – instruct his students on how blogs can be used to further journalistic pursuits.

But hey, take heart Washington University journalism students: You’re being taught by George Clooney’s dad! And he was the Old Spice man! That has to count for something.

2 comments for “Nick Clooney: The unfrozen caveman lawyer of journalism professors

  1. Anonymous
    September 13, 2008 at 8:34 am

    The Old Spice guy was the dad of Matthew Perry (from “Friends”). Nick’s big notice (other than being brother-of-Rosemary and father-of-George) was hosting AMC (like Robert Osbourne does on TCM) from 1994-1999.

  2. September 13, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Ah, you’re right. Correction made above.

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