Down to the wire

Welcome to this week's Reno News & Review.

Made it through another one. In some ways, this was not the toughest semester I ever had. I mean, last semester was a killer; between the two courses of study, I read about 24 books, and I'm not talking light reading, either. Dense, heavy information that left impressions on my brain, like the gouges left by dragging a refrigerator across a hardwood floor. I won't remember everything I was supposed to learn, but I will always remember the books it came out of, if I ever need to look it up.

Still, this semester was not the easiest semester I ever had, either, but since I liked it, it went by like turning a corner. At the university, my classes both depended a lot on the personalities in them. As usual, I felt a little awkward since I'm roughly twice as old as everyone but the professors, and I'm pretty sure I was older than them, too. I don't care much about the age difference, but it does create a bit of a communication gap.

Now that I mention it, I did feel my age, 52, more than I've ever felt it in the journalism class I teach. I think I've put my finger on it. These are the first kids I've taught, the majority of whom had smart phones through high school. They've created a whole new etiquette. Second interactions among their peers are now generally text or social media—not phone calls, which they consider intrusive. For example, if they were to meet someone in class, and they were interested in talking to them later, they'd text or Facebook. If there's a communication hierarchy, it probably goes in-person, text, social media, email, phone call and then face-to-face. That creates an issue between young journalists and older sources. Older people, say 30 and up, don't have the same etiquette. For example, I'd almost always prefer a phone call than a Facebook or a text.

You can teach kids many things, but it's hard to teach them to act in a way they consider aggressive or rude. It's going to make for a different breed of reporter in coming decades.