At its best, CJR has met that challenge, which is just as essential today as it was fifty years ago. Here’s hoping you will continue to hold the media accountable and open our hearts and minds for another fifty years or more.
President and CEO, Free Press
Associate program director, Free Press
I always looked forward to CJR—it was the one place where I could depend on getting real insight into real things that were going on in my world. From way back in the halcyon days when our biggest challenges simply seemed to be how to get better and better at what we did, to the really dark days when it seemed like everything we knew was disappearing, to the search for new business models, it was always fun to see what CJR had to say. And I have to say that even today, it’s fun to read The Audit. We don’t always agree, but we always like the reasoning behind the choices.
It’s pretty humbling for journalists when they find themselves the subjects of journalism. The experience—which often bears little resemblance to reality—usually makes us realize just how much we must be getting wrong. Not so with CJR. Not only were the stories accurate, they were insightful. I found myself in the magazine’s sights a couple of times and always came away learning something new about myself and whatever situation I found myself in.
If CJR didn’t exist, I think we should be compelled to invent it!
Special projects editor, Bloomberg
New York, NY
The Tail Wags the Badger
The University of Wisconsin football “program” has always congratulated itself on developing its own players, but this fall, the Badgers’ starting quarterback is a twenty-two-year-old college graduate and professional baseball player who was developed somewhere else. Russell Wilson bailed out at North Carolina State University, where he starred for three years and earned a baccalaureate degree, with one year of football eligibility left. Effectively a free agent, he was hotly recruited by both Auburn and Wisconsin, which got the nod largely because Wilson was awed by its imposing offensive line. The Wilson situation is a breathtaking example of the cynicism and hypocrisy of big-time college football, but since it involves no infraction of NCAA rules, not an eyebrow has been raised by the sports press in Madison—or anywhere else, for that matter.
It may be true that the “Scandal Beat” reporters Daniel Libit writes about in the September/October CJR focus on crumbs and ignore the muffin, as Rick Telander puts it, but an even bigger problem is that the football-crazy public in general and alumni fans in particular think the muffin is finger-lickin’ good. The commercialization and corporatization of college sports, the huge amounts of money involved, and the slick marketing campaigns have made athletic departments bigger than the schools they represent. The tail is wagging the dog, and except for a few spoilsport journalists, hardly anyone sees anything wrong with that. Just win, baby!
Wisconsin’s hired gun from North Carolina will play only one season in Madison, but if he takes his fellow “student athletes” to a big bowl game or, who knows, a national championship, he’ll go down as the greatest Badger athlete who never set foot in a UW undergraduate classroom.
Spring Green, WI
I have known several world-class musicians who have been recruited to university music schools with offers of full scholarship plus expenses (essentially the same deal that scholarship varsity athletes receive). These young musicians are not only allowed, but encouraged, to take as many outside, paid performance jobs as they can handle. Indeed, I knew some who played in the local symphony, at full wages, while in school. Why is it acceptable for an oboe player but not a football, basketball, or tennis player to earn outside income, even unrelated to the sport, while making considerable income for the university?
Talk Is Cheap
Dave Marash has been a master storyteller for half a century. “Fade to Black” (CJR, September/October) is one of his most important—and most disturbing.
If anything, David is being a little too kind in his observations (he always has been a gentleman). CNN’s Jonathan Klein and his counterparts state that intelligent talk can be more informative than crafted video reporting. In theory, that may be true. Unfortunately, in practice it’s a different matter. Frequently, the “talk” to be found on television news programs is utter banality. For their next project, perhaps Dave’s team can tally the number of statements per hour that are uninformed, off-point, or just outright silly. I suggest purchasing a calculator that has an exponent function.
New York, NY