When I win my Oscar, or my Pulitzer, or Peabody, or Chamber of Commerce Parent of the Year (third runner-up), or whatever lies in my future, I have to thank these two guys. Of course we’d all have to live to 150 for that to happen, so the Knight-Wallace Fellows spent much of the weekend thanking them anyway, for what they gave us and what we still hope to give back.
The highlight of the weekend was the giant Introduction of the Fellows. It took forever, but it was worth it, the microphone passing around the room and all 200 or so of those assembled telling everyone what we did at Michigan, what we ended up doing after and how the former helped the latter. And you know what? It was inspiring.
These last few years have been grim in journalism — newspapers cutting off limbs, television news descending into WWWA-TV, the usual platter of miseries — but journalism is as important as ever. More important, even. And there were a lot of horror stories; “I went to Ann Arbor for a year, and all I got was my job eliminated” was not a unique storyline. But by and large, those people landed on their feet, doing things differently, doing things better. A pox on corporate journalism, but dammit, we may pull through after all. The stories were wonderful: A network producer goes independent. A demoted reporter goes back to school. An editor starts a foundation. A writer becomes a documentary filmmaker. A columnist becomes a novelist. A TV guy becomes an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs were everywhere. That was the theme of the weekend — going unilateral. Stickin’ it to the Man. But still, doing it better than the Man ever dreamed of.
So thanks, Charles (Eisendrath, the guy in the hat, director of the program) and thanks, Mike (the other guy). I had the time of my life, and continue to do so. Every day is a winding road; long may you drive.