Tahoe Pine Nuts: A journalist, educator and columnist walk into a bar… | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Pine Nuts: A journalist, educator and columnist walk into a bar…

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Ashley A. Cooper | Lake Tahoe Action

Scientists have recently discovered that belief in scientific facts and faith in religion are maintained in two separate and distinct departments of the brain … so there it is.

That explains holy wars — at least it does for me, partially.

I depend upon trustworthy, often heroic journalists from various regions of our troubled world in my attempt to understand each day’s political ploys, soldierly strategies and terrorist atrocities.

It’s my personal belief that if you group a thousand random people together and toss an ideology into the air, two of those people will leap up and grab that ideology before it hits the ground.

Those two will then claim that particular ideology as their personal dogma by which to live, and off they will trot to fight for ISIS in the Middle East, or Russia in Ukraine, or Iran in Yemen, while the other 9,998 are shouting, “Hey, are you ____ nuts?”

Once an ideology has been adopted it can be sold to others, oftentimes on the number of centuries it has been believed, and the most powerful agent that can mollify that sort of medieval thinking is rock-solid journalism.

Journalism matters equally in the small town and village, where we might otherwise never know who is bilking whom, or who is benefiting the community with generosity and charity.

I ask you, have you ever met a local journalist you didn’t respect? I don’t mean stumptail columnists like Joe Pastrami and me, but true journalists. I haven’t, and don’t expect I ever will.

Take Kevin MacMillan: This could possibly be the most efficient and valuable man to wear out his life in a newspaper office since Dan DeQuill.

The danger we all face is journalist burnout. More and more responsibility is falling upon the local reporter and editor to run the whole show.

This is a real problem. By comparison, teacher burnout in New York has fallen from 13-14 years, to seven. I haven’t seen a study on burnout in journalism, but it might be equally as alarming.

Just as we need to show more respect to our educators, and pay them what they deserve, we need to compensate our journalists for content we can count on, or suffer the consequences as more and more disillusioned people grasp for ancient ideologies.

When education and information about the world around us falls short and fails us, we tend to turn to fundamentalism. What could be sadder?

Last week, when the 2015 Pulitzer Prizes were awarded to journalists across this great land of ours, they went to deserving souls who contribute to public service, investigative reporting and explanatory reporting, among other notable categories, including editorial cartooning and photography.

It’s going to take good journalists like these Pulitzer winners, and good teachers who rarely get recognized, to keep America safe from extremism, and keep us on the road to exceptionalism.

So, a journalist, a teacher and a columnist walk into a pub…

Journalist: “Well, I suppose our eminent educator ought to pick up the first round, seeing as how education in Nevada is on the rise.”

Educator: “Well now, hold on, I reckon our columnist friend here ought to pick up the first round, as he is not hidebound to the truth as we are.”

Columnist: “Bartender, you’ve got a great place here, no television, just good company and good conversation … deserving of mention in a column.”

Bartender: “Three beers coming up — on the house.”

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at http://www.ghostoftwain.com.

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