of conversation. His free-form quips are refreshing in an era of predictable canned
newscast commentary. This was apparent when he played with the correspondent at the
end of the CNN clip and said, “stay classy baby. . .” The correspondent was slightly
surprised because he deviated from typically staid news banter and she laughs while
awkwardly responding, “Okay, I’ll try.”
As a conversational trickster, he effectively responds with a line or comment that surprises
or disrupts. Frank J. Barrett, in an article correlating jazz improvisation with improved
organizational creativity, discusses how veteran jazz musicians often make deliberate
disruptions that demand new responses (Barrett, 1998).
Education Gives You More Choices
As an educator, I appreciate his honesty when it comes to painting a realistic portrait of the
job market for a freelance journalist. He was candid about seeing a 60-percent reduction
of his freelance rates in less than four years. He notes, “I feel sorry for those kids that are
coming out of J school with the slips in one hand and the degree in the other hopeless.
They are about to get kicked in the teeth because those jobs just aren’t there. The jobs
that are there are paying shit. You will be in and out within a week a few months
because the business model for the newspapers has changed. Even those kids with
Internet skills everyone has Internet skills and there’s nothing to make you special
anymore. They still don’t teach you how to develop your voice so even your voice as a
writer doesn’t make you special. You’re coming out with the same skills every Jack and Jill
has and the same piece of paper. It’s going to be bad really bad. I’m a writer. I’m not
just a journalist. I’m not just a screenwriter. I’m a writer. I can write whatever you’ve got.
A lot of kids come out of J-school. . .they’re going to be managing a Denny’s.”
I mention to jimi in our conversation that I frequently advise my students to be
entrepreneurial about creating their own jobs or projects. He fires back, “that’s the Cosby
model of what a college education is supposed to do. . . I tell my son that a college
education doesn’t guarantee a job but it does give you more choices and I think that’s
what we need to start teaching students. If you’re going to college thinking that you are
going to get a job at the end then you are woefully mistaken. But at least you will have
more choices between Wendy’s and McDonalds or between Starbucks and Caribou where
you can work. Now a college education in theory will give you some variables on what you
can do with your life. But you’re better off with one than without.” jimi’s remark reminded
me of my own father who after listening to me whine about the economic downturn and my
rant about a wasted educated in the 1970s responded, “college is not about jobs there
are few times in your life when you get to read great books and explore new ideas.” jimi’s
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