So I had my first quiz of the semester today in my “Critical Perspectives on the News” (or journalism ethics, if you prefer) class today. The prof announced it would be 20 questions, short answer based on our course readings (mostly some Brill’s Content articles about the JonBenet Ramsey case, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and the CNN Tailwind story) and some current events questions.
Of these 20 questions, the answers to 18 of them were simply names. One question was even an outright opinion. Let me break some of them down for you:
Questions about JonBenet included: What were the names of her parents? What was the name of the Globe reporter that admitted fabricating stories? What did so-and-so (I forget who) publish as a scoop in the Rocky Mountain News that later turned out to be false?
Questions about the Monica story: What Newsweek reporter initally had the story? What internet journalist scooped him? Name another Newsweek reporter that worked on the story.
Questions about CNN included: Who were the two people fired for the Tailwind story? Who was the lawyer who led the review into the story? Who was the CEO of CNN at the time?
Current events questions: Name these people–PM of Israel, PM of England, US SecState, US SecDef, Chief UN Weapons Inspector, and (I am not making this up) “The country most opposed to US war in Iraq”. I guessed France.
Good lord. This is such a weak load of bullshit. I’m SO GLAD we weren’t tested on anything that actually had to do with what’s right and wrong and why in journalism, but rather we had to regurgitate a who’s who. Any moron could find out the names “Michael Isikoff” or “Matt Drudge” by doing maybe 5 seconds of research. Never mind the issues or concepts involved.
I’ve come across tests like this in middle school, high school, college, you name it. Personally, I think this kind of crap has no place outside of elementary schools when they are teaching you multiplication tables or something. But I bet I’m not the only doper who’s seen this. Name the presidents in order. Name all 50 states and their capitals. Name 100 elements and their chemical symbol. Memorize this poem/passage of Shakespeare. You get the idea.
I guess this has gotten kind of long, so I’ll close with a promise from my great 11th grade physics teacher: “I will never test you on or make you kids remember something any fool can look up in a book.”