Mrs. Rosenblum addresses the class at CUNY.
Sunday was a crummy day in New York, so we stayed home.
I spent most of the day trying to work on my book, but its hard to maintain focus and my mind drifted. As the aphorism goes, “idle hands are the devil’s workshop”.
Having hit the 100 mark and maxed out at 108 on Freecell, I drifted over the Medialine.
My wife always tells me to stop wasting my time on places like Medialine. “It’s pointless”. She is probably right.
Against her good advice, I found myself drawn into an online discussion about the TV business which soon hinged on the definition of ‘good enough’. As in, I think that the product produced by the small cameras is good enough for local news.
I won’t repeat the long and twisting line of discussion. You can read that for yourself if you are so inclined.
Today we are starting a course we are teaching at CUNY, the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism. It comes at a propitious time with respect to the discussion of what is ‘good enough’.
A few years ago, when I was teaching at NYU, one of my students came to me, extremely upset that she had received on an A- on an exam.
She could not understand why. Why didn’t I give her an A. She had answered the essay question perfectly. She had, in fact, fed back to me all the readings and all the notes from the class lecture. It was fine. I
How come I didn’t get an A? she asked.
This was a student under enormous pressure from home to get all As all the time.
I explained that while her essay wise fine, it was good enough, it also didn’t show any flashes of creative brilliance. It was workmanlike and fine. Good, but not brilliant. Adequate.
This, she like the folks at Medialine, found enormously upsetting.
We live in a world where, as Garrison Keilor says of Lake Woebegone, all the children are above average.
Most people are not. Most products are not. They are adequate for what they are supposed to do, and we can’t ask for more. In fact, we expect good enough.
When I fly Virgin to London, I am content that the plane is on time, the plane is clean and the meals are good and the entertainment system works. Good enough. I don’t expect the plane to arrive in 3 hours instead of 6. I am more than content to have it perform as it is supposed to. If only Time/Warner were so good enough!
In any event, after much heated debate with the student at NYU (much like the contributors at Medialine.com), I said to her:
“OK. If you think that this is the very best thing you will ever write… if you really believe that you are incapable of ever doing anything that will ever surpass this, and you are willing to put that in writing for me that ‘this is the best work I will ever do’, then I will give you an A”
She paused and stared at me: “OK she said. You win.”
Today our students from CUNY are going out on the streets of New York to shoot their first pieces.
I should be so lucky that all of them come back with something that is good enough.