Thursday, March 19, 2009

Carleton's Master of Journalism Program: Kind of Like a Reality TV Show

I was flipping channels during the commercials on The National and briefly stopped on Hell's Kitchen.

Various little wannabe chefs had prepared dishes based on tuna for the head chef. The dishes involved things like balsamic ginger reductions and braised leeks. The nervous little junior chefs stood terrified in front of the beautiful products of their hard work and talent.

The head chef proceeded to tear them apart systematically and question their every decision. "Why didn't you put more sauce on this?" "I didn't want to drown out the flavour." "Well, that's a shame, because it's rather dry, ISN'T IT?" 

Even the ones he praised were concealed in a torrent of criticism. "Those leeks are chopped too large, and using your mom's cooking as a muse is rather pedestrian, but other than that, this tuna is delicious. Everyone else needs much more work. You, you need more work too, don't get me wrong. But it's acceptable."

It's uncanny how much this is like my program. We kill ourselves looking for the best story ideas. We obsess over every little detail. Then our professors question and criticize the smallest detail of everything we produce, in front of the entire class.

This leads to paranoia, panic attacks, and petty criticism. And alliteration. Apparently.

You know what? ALL of those tuna dishes looked delicious. Those scared little baby chefs had to work hard and show a lot of talent to be on that show. And there is absolutely no way I could have made that balsamic-ginger reduction glaze, let alone figure out how much to put on my tuna.

We're good at what we do. All of us. Obsessing over every detail is fine in the production stage, but the problem is when you take it home with you. 

But nobody wants to be a reality TV also-ran.

2 comments:

The Science Manly said...

"We're good at what we do. All of us. Obsessing over every detail is fine in the production stage, but the problem is when you take it home with you."

Thank you. I needed that today.

:)

Anonymous said...

Hey, I've been accepted to the Fall 09 MJ program at Carleton and am nerdily excited about it.

I've been following your blog for awhile and was wondering if you'd be alright with answering scads of questions about the program with brutal honesty?

Teghan.Beaudette@gmail.com