Sarah Lacy vs. Journalism

headshot_sarahlacySarah Lacy is one of those people you hear of and – in my case – you shake your head in jealously and amazement. I first heard of the tech/business writer a few months ago when TechCrunch welcomed her as a guest blogger and then later hired her on as a regular contributor.

Lacy has her own blog on BusinessWeek called “Valley Girl”, co-hosts Yahoo’s Tech Ticker, has published a book, is halfway through her second book, and on top of all that now she writes for TechCrunch. Aside from the business stuff, she’s living my dream.

And apparently, she’s living several journalism students’ dreams.

Today, Lacy wrote a terrific and bold article on TechCrunch called “Who the Hell Is Enrolling in Journalism School Right Now?” which caught my eye on my RSS feed and made me think, “uh oh”.

In the article, Lacy says “I’ve gotten farther in ten years than I thought I would in fifty” while a friend of hers who chose journalism school is not even in the industry. She then launches into a powerful affront on why journalism school is a bad idea, including this gem:

“Journalism schools are like foot-binding. They force you into a style that a bunch of dinosaurs all agreed was acceptable a zillion years ago. So in an age of blogging, you have no voice. In fact, if I were in J-school now, I’d have my knuckles rapped for using the rhetorical “you” in those last two sentences.”

If I weren’t on a crowded train at the time, I would have started a slow-clap for Lacy. That paragraph pretty succinctly sums up part of the reason I do not like traditional reporting and why I do not want to find myself in a traditional journalism setting. To close her article, Lacy hits it out the park:

“Journalism isn’t dying; it’s just in a period of extreme volatility. And in any time of volatility, there’s huge room for opportunity. But you’re not going to learn how to exploit it in a stuffy classroom taught by people who got there by working at newspapers.”

The funny thing is a graduate journalism student like myself should be offended by this article, but instead I’m feeling more assured about my position. I do feel the urge, however, to explain that not all journalism schools are alike, and that The Cronkite School is encouraging this non-traditional path as well.

I read this article on my iPhone while riding the train home from journalism grad school and just after, I noticed that Lacy had posted this on her Twitter account:

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She of course is referring to her BuisnessWeek article also written today called “AP and News Corp.: Wrong About Google” in which she wags her finger and warns that “asking web companies to pay up for content won’t fix a business model that Old Media should have remedied a long time ago”.

Two amazing articles published within hours of eachother? This girl is my hero for the day. Call me a fan-boy, but she has a hell of a silver tongue:

“The AP’s rant followed News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch telling Forbes that Google should have to start paying for linking to News Corp. content. What’s next? Charging Twitter for the privilege of all those editors and reporters who try to drum up interest in their articles via Tweets? …

Once you’re reduced to legal threats and whining, you’re one step away from admitting total defeat. Just ask the music industry. What’s next, suing our own readers for clicking on Google links?”

I encourage everyone to read both of these articles, because they are flat out amazing. Lacy has written some things that some would hesitate to say, but the truth is a lot of people share her opinions.

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