I wrote "Welcome to the Revolution" on the board, followed by "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite."
"You are enmeshed in a revolution," I told my Journalism 220 class, pulling a few more faces up from their forays into the Web. "This is as significant, for you as journalists, as the Reformation and the French Revolution."
I'm not sure they bought my argument, but I believe it.
As the translation of the Bible into common tongues brought received religion before a wider audience ... as the French Revolution reshaped the very language and calendar of a nation and echoed throughout Europe ... the advent of blogging shakes the foundations of standard "objective" journalism and opens the gates to citizen-journalists everywhere.
In the name of impartiality, journalists separated themselves from society. I was taught decades ago that you don't belong to organizations, don't share your religious or political beliefs, avoid as Washington said of nations, "foreign entanglements." But this effort to stand apart from appearances of partiality has ended up making journalists into a sort of priestdom. Like police, reporters tend to play together and stay together - even marry within the ranks.
So now the masses have taken over the means of production, to borrow a phrase from yet another revolution.
I hope that the J-220 students absorbed the concept, if not all the buttressing arguments. Their newsroom lives will be very different from mine. The Web changed journalism, and now blogging and podcasting and technologies just aborning will bring change on change.
It's an exciting time. Information is liberated and liberating. The 'net makes us equals, whether we're typing in a public library or a college office or an elegant mansion. Let's hope that brotherhood is there as well.