The past and future of journalism?

Past and present (from left): Kevin Kellems, Dave Wilson, Jim Schaefer, Karen Goldberg Goff, Sue Massarsky

Against our better judgment, a group of recovering journalists (save for Jim Schaefer, who remains a full-blown newspaper reporter) went home again. We paid a visit to a place that often served as home for a few formative years in our college experience, the Lantern newsroom.

I saw some extraordinarily talented people pass through that room, some of whom you can see pictured above. Except for that clown second from the left. What a maroon!

Kevin Kellems was wandering the halls of the Pentagon on 9/11. He nearly died in Baghdad (can’t remember if that was with Cheney, Rumsfeld or slightly lesser-known D.C. muckity-muck). Adviser (with an “er” as the Associated Press insists) to governors and congressmen.

Jim Schaefer endured strikes and strife at the Detroit newspapers, doing great work all along, and eventually he pulled home a Pulitzer Prize last year as a major part of the team that uncovered the misbehavior of Detroit’s mayor. Then he co-authored a small book titled The Kwame Sutra: Musings on lust, life and leadership, from Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

Karen Goff is a longtime newspapercreature, writing sports (almost unheard of when she started in the ’80s), features and other good stuff, now reinventing herself online with the next launch of Patch.com.

Longtime readers of akrondave (all three of you) know my rants well, so I’ll spare you this time.

Sue Massarsky was one of the j-schoolers who decided the generally lousy pay, crappy hours and working weekends and holidays wasn’t enticement enough to actually work in newspapers. Wish I had been that smart!

Many of the rest of us have recently found ourselves in the same situation as the cast of the early absurdist play Six Characters in Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello. Only we are a Legion of Journalistas in Search of a Living. We’re not dead yet, just feeling a little under the weather.

Shockingly, there are still a few brave (or foolish)  young souls who dare to dream of journalism careers, or at least something related to journalism. See photo immediately below.

And they were a happy surprise: Smart, engaged student editors and writers, including some who actually intend to work in newspapers or like media (obviously incorporating video and multimedia in a very robust way as well).

Karen had arranged a tour of the Lantern newsroom and the new faculty adviser, Dan Caterinicchia, brought in some of the student staff to meet with us. Damn, at times I felt really, really old.

But this tour was in stark contrast to one (I missed it) four years ago, when the journalism school and Lantern had fallen into a steep decline – it’s probably no coincidence that the media as a whole were in steep decline as well (I had just lost my job at the Beacon Journal that week and probably would have flung myself off a bridge into the Olentangy River). Folks were so alarmed that they wrote letters of protest and otherwise expressed concern about the condition of the school.

But these “kids” (I put in quotes because I hated being called a “kid” in college, especially when I was over 21) really seem to have something going. And Dan Caterinicchia totally gets it.  The visit gave our small tour group a glimmer of hope for the future of journalism.

The future, perhaps? From left: Alexa Odom, Bobby Gartrell, Leah Wynalek, Molly Gray.

"And then Kwame says, 'Hey, bartender ...' "

Lantern adviser Dan Caterinicchia and Karen Goff -- note the fabulous scarlet wall.

Two pillars of Lantern lore.

Some great traditions have been preserved. Cutline contest!

A shining beacon of righteousness!

Colbert stole this move from me. No, really!

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