Thursday, December 8, 2011

UCI’s new New University doesn’t suck!

By Red Emma

     Striding bravely to and from classes, staff meetings, union grievances, bookstore events or demonstrations, UC Irvine’s Red Emma searches the corporate campus searching for news, for corroboration, not to mention looking for voter registration tables or any other behaviors of resistance to the operation of the machine. Rebuffing efforts to recruit him into a sorority or pledge his love for Jesus, he does his best to frighten the woman-hating anti-abortion rights pamphleteers and tries very hard indeed to make the Obectivist boys cry by teasing them about their cultish lunatic leader, the undead Ms. Rand. Some fun!
     Along the way, Red picks up a copy of New University, historically a pretty weak student-run paper. The problem (like you needed another one) with New U is that its MO for reporting news and features is to mimic, slavishly, the presumed tradition of much bigger—and dying—papers, presumably to teach students to be like the now laid-off reporters who used to work at, say, the Los Angeles Times and OC Register.
     New University, as with the long-ago murderized Irvine Valley College Voice and, yes, Saddleback’s Lariat, suffers from a weird devotion to being all things to some imaginary all people. The kids who write for these papers, god bless ‘em, don’t actually read the above corporate mainstream newspapers but, despite that sorry irony, have been instructed it seems to write short, generic, simulacra of what somebody, perhaps that same person, told them would get them into J-school or make advertisers happy–kind of the same thing, now that I mention it. (You’re welcome!)
     This totally inappropriate model flies in the face of the opportunity, unique to an institutionally supported news outlet, to claim a necessary role. These papers could find stories that nobody else is covering. They could investigate and muckrake and even teach students about actual policy instead of covering–I kid you not!–world news, reviewing yogurt stands, or rewriting corporate media press releases, all of which nobody reads anyway except Red, who apparently needs something to get pissed off about.
     It doesn’t have to be like that. And, happily, Red Emma is here to report that, in recent weeks, it hasn’t been. Under the editorial direction of one Gregory Yee, the paper actually reflects what is happening in the system. Yee and his stalwarts at New U have, despite the no doubt overwhelming pressure of the status quo, in three consecutive recent weeks transformed at least the front page of the newspaper into an aggressive presentation of what is unarguably THE story–student protests, budget cuts, Regent foolishness, Occupy resistance–along with writing some brave editorials and featuring a couple of thoughtful commentaries. Yippee!
     Not since the Radical Student Union published the UC Irvine Disorientation Guide (sic)–now out of print but rumored to be revised and republished–has this reader so eagerly sought student media on campus. Check it out: the most recent front page featured a long piece on “Students Protest Regents Meeting,” and, even better, a sidebar with the either provocative or totally wonderfully obvious (depending on your level of political engagement) title “Corporations or Education?” and listing, helpfully, the positions and affiliations of the odious Regents. It concludes with: “Only 1 of the 19 appointed UC Regents holds prior experience serving as an educator.” Naturally, Red brought the paper to class, sharing it with students who either did not know there was a school newspaper in the first place or never, ever read it. Together, we went through the impressive list of financial services, real estate and corporate tycoons, using their computers to corroborate the (un)startling news delivered right there in black and white—and read all over.
     The old university of estrangement, tunnel vision, obliviousness lately seems dead. Long live the new New University!  – RE

Editor’s note:

     I just wanted to mention that I visited UCI yesterday to attend an event featuring DtB friend and former IVC student, Jason Davis, who graduated last spring with a degree from UCI’s Program in Literary Journalism.
     The program has a “magazine of literary journalism”—Kiosk—and one of Jason’s pieces was selected for inclusion in the latest issue. He was also among the few contributors asked to read from his work at last night's event (Brian and Me).
     Pretty wonderful stuff. Check it out.
     Upon graduation, Jason landed a very cool job writing for an online publication. He has literary projects in the works that promise big things. We couldn't be happier for him! –BvT


Anonymous said...

That's good to hear. Hope it's a trend.

Anonymous said...

That's great about Jason!

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