Saturday, January 19, 2008

The folks who work in student journalism are among the brightest and most engaged students on any campus. That's why it was an absolute treat to be able to speak to about 50 of them this morning at Canadian University Press's annual student journalism conference. And given the challenging time slot (9:30 am on the morning after a bar night) I was surprised to see so many braving the hour. Moreover, they appeared attentive and asked interesting questions and we had great retention. Mad props to Melanie Wood and Rob Fishbook, the conference organizers, and to all the CUP staff and journos.

Of course, it probably helped that the subject was sex and journalism. I was making, perhaps a bit slyly, the case against pandering to prudes. I didn't put it exactly that way. I was inviting the writers and editors to (1) push students to consider the implication of Canada's sex laws and (2) to reduce sexual shame and stigma by asking readers to adopt intellectual and moral positions that more closely lined up with their sex lives as they're lived. The ethical position of a journalist must, I argued this morning, take into account whether articles (or lack of articles) increase or decrease sexual shame. Certainly a fun topic to talk about at any rate. There was certainly some spin off in the Q and A portion and a healthy number of critical thinkers approached me afterwards to talk.

Oh, and they totally sucked up forty copies of Xtra, Xtra West and Capital Xtra. Which is kind of cool.