Isabelle Roughol – The J junkie

The tribulations of a young journalist and writer looking for work

4.16% of Ph.Ds a haven do not make

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I spent 5 hours in the dark yesterday watching the POY judging and actually thought it was fun. David Rees struck up a conversation with me, the essence of which was that I should delay my graduation and stick around to take more photo classes (oh how I wish). I then found myself at Shakespeare’s taking some cool portraits of Sally Morrow (I might be a better photographer with a couple beers in me). I’ve had my camera in my bag all week and shot half a roll just on my way to work this morning, just because the light was nice.

I was told last night that I am one conversation with Rita Reed shy of induction into the photo department. Alright, Rita, let’s chat. Why shouldn’t I want to stick around for a photo master’s after all? Didn’t you hear? CoMo is the 11th smartest city in the U.S., and Lord knows I need to surround myself with smart people. You already knew we pride ourselves on having the highest per capita ratio of journalists, but now we also have published proof that we are smarter than the Silicon Valley.

Elinore Longobardi over at CJR has pointed out all the statistical pitfalls of this list, and I make it a habit not to poorly duplicate the good work of others, so I’ll just link. I have to disagree with one point she makes, though.

The business press likes lists. We don’t know why. But it does. List-making seems more a clerical than journalistic function, but that’s just us.

I know why! They grab the public’s attention on your cover better than a puppy hugging a baby (yes, the puppy’s doing the hugging). They usually consist of simply reformatting research done by someone else, giving you super high return of very little time investment. And, every town of significant size is bound to be in one at some point, setting off a flurry of local bloggers advertising your publication for free. Lists are great.

Funny Forbes should praise our smarts, when lack of intellectual simulation is the reason why I couldn’t see myself living much longer in Columbia. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of brilliant, talented people around these parts that put me to shame every day, with a high concentration in an area roughly delimited by College, Providence, Locust and Rollins. CoMo is a neat little town that is dear to my heart, but three years was time enough to walk through the one museum and realize I’ll never find a decent bakery. I don’t think 4.16 percent of residents having a Ph.D. makes a place “a haven for intellectual stimulation and scholarly achievement.”

But you all know what really pisses me off about this list is that somehow Lawrence, Kan., made the top 10 and we didn’t. We want recall.


Written by Isabelle Roughol

Saturday, 23 February, 2008 at 19:20

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