Ask Amy: Aspiring journalist’s instructor buried the lede

Amy Dickinson
Tribune News Service

Dear Amy: I always dreamed of becoming a reporter, so I took “Newswriting 101” for four credits at my local community college.

Based on the catalog description, I expected to cover a lot of material and eventually transfer the credits to a university program, but our instructor, “Jack,” had other ideas.

Instead of challenging students to learn journalistic skills, Jack said he made big money posting on the internet. After covering a few basic concepts, he ignored the “boring” required textbook and just assigned random internet videos for us to watch.

Rather than prepare lectures, he repeatedly cut short our weekly Zoom classes and even canceled three classes at the last minute without explanation.

I’m serious about my studies, and I want to continue, but this class didn’t give me the academic knowledge I need to build on.  Should I go to the dean of the college and inform them that class time was cut by more than half?

Jack is a “nice guy,” but I don’t need a buddy. I need rigorous training for a tough, competitive profession.

I don’t want to hurt Jack during the current economic downturn, but I believe the students were seriously short-changed by the low level of instruction. What should I do? — Reporting

Dear Reporting: I beg to differ about one aspect of your account: “Jack” is NOT a nice guy. Jack is a lazy guy who highjacked an entire class of students who paid for instruction and deserve to receive it.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but if Jack really was making “big money” on the internet, he would not be fleecing the local community college. His online history and presence might be something to look into.

I’m impressed by your standards, your attitude, and your fierce desire to learn. You have already used some reporting skills to build a factually accurate case about Jack, and now I encourage you to take your case to the dean.

Dear Amy: I’ve been texting back and forth with my deceased husband’s cousins for years.

They have been extremely supportive toward me. They all traveled to see and support me, attending his memorial service last year.  Overall, a very friendly relationship. I love them a lot.

Today — as usual — I was included in their text conversation, which veered unexpectedly into some comments about how victimized they feel because of the results of the U.S. presidential election. Their political leanings have not come up before.

They don’t strike me as unintelligent people, but they are all very conservative, politically and religiously.

I do not agree with their comments at all.

Should I just ignore and not respond, or should I comment? I’m not happy about this.

I do not know how to respond without offending them.

If I do, what should I say? — Text Challenged

Dear Challenged: If you don’t think these cousins are “unintelligent,” then don’t assume their intelligence is somehow in play because of how they voted, how they worship, or how aggrieved they feel.

They are upset. They believe they are victims of what has been proven - over and over again — to have been a fair election.

Irrational, yes, but if you voted for the Democrat candidate in 2016, you might remember how it felt to be declared a citizen of Loserville, USA. You might have felt like a victim of some mysterious process. Nonetheless, you had to get on with it, just the way these very nice and supportive people will have to get on with it.

If you find they are including you in multiple political text conversations that you would rather not participate in, you could respond: “Just letting you know - It’s been an exhausting year. I’m hoping to take a break from politics. Feel free to exclude me from those discussions. I’d love to chime in on just about anything else.”

Dear Amy: Your very dumb response to the mom who didn’t like her husband’s daily pot smoking [“Smoked Out”] revealed your prejudice about pot.

There is nothing wrong with smoking pot. If she doesn’t like the smoke, he should use edibles or vape his pot. — Daily User

Dear User: Edibles and vaping are good suggestions for avoiding some of the toxins in pot smoke.

I view pot use as I would view alcohol use. Although the effects are very different from these two substances, I believe that using either drug all day long, every day, is not a healthy choice.