Journalism education failed the profession because it failed its students.
It never developed or advanced. It was always about teaching The Craft.
And that means teaching rules.
Which gives students the idea that they will Win At Life if only they remember those rules and blindly follow them, as if they got in on some big secret.
We never question or test rules as part of the progression of learning.
What does 1+1=?
A bigger one, of course.
We turn over the most basic of rules, and suddenly, we can see that 1+1=∞ as well.
As does every other equation. Infinitely big, small, or infinite void.
That is to say, that blindly answering "2" means you memorized a rule.
But if we turn over what other possibilities are out there and test them, we open up new worlds as we expand our knowledge.
The static rule-memorizers parrot "2", and think they are actually smart.
Their minds constrict as they confine themselves and follow the rules, never testing them -- and always trying to force other people into parroting the same rules.
Journalism taught students rules. It never taught them the art and science of turning over rules.
And when the world began to change, it could not keep up because the rules told them that they were gate-keepers, and the sole guardians of democracy.
The Internet turned over those rules and they all shattered. The rule wasn't true.
But journalism was supposed to be the profession that could cover unexpected catastrophes and shocking turns without skipping a beat, meaning if there was any profession that should have rule-turning at its core to create an industry of people who could think creatively on their feet, that was it.
F.R.E.E.D. is all about testing and turning rules until they break.
We talk about exceptions that test the rules, but if the rule is not a rule, then it is not an exception, either.
It is an impossible situation, meaning an exception is as illusionary as a rule.
What we call an "exception" is a hidden path that takes us to an alternate destination. What we call a "rule" is the well-worn established path everyone takes and assumes is the only way to get there.
Uncover the secret path -- or build a new one, and you no longer have an exception -- just a different route that can take us to a different place.
J-school education could have been a mind-blowing experience that challenged young minds in ways that no one thought was possible.
It just stuck by the rules.
But F.R.E.E.D. is about turning over rules. It's educational system is completely different because it shows differences between illusions and reality, for instance.
Rules are illusions. The more we test them, the more we learn, and more we learn, the better prepared we are to create better ways.
We can be confident of our destinies in reality because we can become equipped to navigate through it.
We can leave the bickering, meddling, and decrees behind when we know that we have the time and space to create the tools we need for a better life.
If journalism took that healthy and humble approach, it would be thriving right now.
By choice, of course.
It preferred a pecking order based on rules, and when those rules were turned over, an entire profession got shattered.
Let's not make the same mistakes again...