Sing a song of journalistic responsibilities…

I wonder if you have to audition for the Society of Professional Journalists chapter at Columbia?

I wonder if there will be a sing-along at the national SPJ convention? With just a little more pitch control, this could be journoGlee! (Click through to YouTube to see the singalong lyrics.)

More: The group’s singing minutes include this tribute to getting employed… “Let’s call ourselves the SPJ band…

Thanks to Deborah Potter for the link…

By the way, more than a half-century ago there were newspaper people singing about their jobs. Pete Seeger resurrected one of those tunes some time ago, and I added it to my old blog. (Lyrics included.)

Looking for it today, I found an older recording, by Earl Robinson and Vern Partlow — just audio, but including the more critical “publishers are such interesting people” chorus and Partlow’s Newspaper Guild verses.

The song also was updated and recorded in the 1960s by Steve Addis and Bill Crofut… with more recent jokes, a little sexist quip about Jayne Mansfield (or about media sexism?), and nice harmonies. But there’s less hint of leftist sympathies or union recruiting, with the reference to “press-titution” coming after Jayne instead of the original linking of publishers and advertisers.

Did you notice the Nixon verse — “He says he’s through with politics…”? History fans will deduce that it was written after his failed bid for the California Governor’s seat in 1962 and his “You won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore” speech to the press, seven years before Nixon became president. And if you’re curious about the reference to journalists being sent to jail in Germany — in the 1960s — this Wikipedia page on the “Spiegel scandal” may help.

Here’s the verse some recordings left out, from The People’s Song Book, 1948:

Oh, publishers are such interesting people!
Their policy’s an acrobatic thing.
They shout they represent the common people.
It’s funny Wall Street never has complained.
But publishers have worries, for publishers must go
To working folks for readers, and big shots for their dough.
Oh, publishers are such interesting people!
It could be press-titution, I don’t know.

Personal note: I met Bill Crofut in 1981 when he was teaching occasionally at Wesleyan University. I don’t recall whether we discussed this song, but he did tell me that he learned to play the banjo from Pete Seeger in exchange for helping work on Pete’s house on the Hudson River. Maybe “Newspapermen Meet the Most Interesting People” was part of the lessons.

Crofut said their paths diverged during the Vietnam War, when he and Addis were musical ambassadors for the U.S. State Department and Seeger was mightily against the Vietnam War. Addis and Crofut visited South Vietnam; Seeger visited the North. (From the title, I suspect there might be something about that in Bill’s book, “Troubadour: A Different Battlefield,” published in 1968. Maybe I’ll add it to my summer reading list.)

Bill Crofut wasn’t teaching banjo at Wesleyan that year. He told me he had heard that legendary Irish singer Joe Heaney didn’t have enough students to support his commute (by bus, I think) from New York City to Middletown, Conn., so Crofut signed on as a student. I did the same. I thank them both for the opportunity. Joe moved to Washington state the next year and passed away in 1984.

mild-mannered reporter who found computers & the Web in grad school in the 1980s (Wesleyan) and '90s (UNC); taught journalism, media studies, Web production; retired to write, make music, photograph sunsets & walks in the woods.

Posted in humor, Journalism, media studies, Music, Newspapers, wesleyan

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