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Posted by Shannon

Print reporters used to refer to the perishable nature of our copy as “tomorrow’s fishwrap” which is probably why I’m still so chuffed when anything I write lives longer than a week. 

This piece from 2013 about the value of studying philosophy got a new life last week in vlog by a professor at Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland, Christopher Anadale. 

Surprisingly, for a discipline that is supposedly passé, philosophy turns out to have a small army of fans. The Salon version of the piece has had more 22,000 pick-ups in Facebook and Twitter alone. 

That could be because, as a Yahoo writer discovered last year when she surveyed salaries by American college majors, philosophy grads earned more money than accounting majors. Number five on the list of humanities degrees is a journalism major – provided you don’t use it to do journalism, of course. 



I’ve been saying that news sites are no longer reporters, they’re repeaters for more than a decade, but in 2014 I decided to stop reading most of them. (Really, if you give them your traffic you're just encouraging bad content.) I wrote a piece about how I have begun to exclude the junk from my reading list, and replace it with books. 

 “I’ll take my coffee with fiction, thanks” was collected in a book by Oxford University Press Canada last month: Becoming an Active Reader by Eric Henderson. ~end~



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It must be summer. In anticipation of fall course schedules, several people have asked what I think someone who wants to be a journalist should study.

A few years ago I realized my favourite answer — not journalism — was depressing for someone who had already reserved a seat for himself or his child at one of Canada’s more than 50 journalism programs.

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Posted by Shannon

Well who knew that a piece in praise of philosophy would be such a hit? 

My piece for Salon magazine, "Be Employable, Study Philosophy," just went viral with more than 24,000 social media pick-ups and a surprising number of interview requests from all over, including American Public Radio. It’s my warning to would-be journos to stay out of the J-skools and get themselves a proper education in a real discipline. 

It’s a highly contrarian view in this age of universities selling credentials in all sorts of trendy subjects. And philosophy is often dismissed as a useless degree by the sort of people who think the business of education is to train tomorrow’s workers for yesterday’s jobs.  But as one of my former instructors noted, if you teach people to think first they can do whatever else they want.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find it hugely reassuring that so many people seem to be in favour of our universities delivering real education instead of certificates in nonsense. 


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