Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Surreal dinner companions

What a day. The multicolored appointments in my Outlook calendar were stacked like a totem pole, from 8:30 a.m. until 9 p.m., with the longest break being a half hour from noon to 12:30, during which I shoveled a gyro sandwich into my face.

Fortunately, it was also a great day, full of my favorite classes and activities, culminating in a  fantastic kicker: dinner at the Graduate Club -- a 119-year-old private dining club -- with my Leadership Strategies for Music Presenters class and our two guests, incredibly fascinating music writers Anne Midgette and Greg Sandow. We ate in a private room, fireplace roaring, and had fantastic conversation about classical and pop music and arts criticism. We debated whether a music-appreciation education at a young age would really lead to classical concert-going as an adult, how/whether music creativity can or should be taught, and what role music critics do, or should, play, and who they should be writing for. This last topic was especially interesting for me because I was thrust into some classical-criticism assignments at both my papers, basically because I was a pianist. I always had fun at such concerts but found them difficult to write about.

This was the second time I've gotten to enjoy such a thing this week. On Monday, the professor of the Economics & Financing of Journalism class I TA took the students and our special guest David Shribman, editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, out for dinner as well. That conversation, both in class and at dinner, was a little frustrating, because the variety of ways I feel newspapers are missing the boat came flooding back to me. Now that I have the self-confidence (be it justified or not) to offer opinions from both a journalism perspective as well as a business-strategy one, I find it harder to swallow some of the rhetoric that print journalists use to defend their industry, while at the same time I remain skeptical of a lot of the solutions that non-journalist business students propose. It's an industry that needs help but doesn't really seem to embrace an MBA way of thinking. Maybe it's the better for it; who am I to say. 

Anyway, regardless of where the conversation leads, these types of evening experiences are very kind of the professors to orchestrate, and I'm sure will be among the most memorable times I take away.

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