The sliderule analogy

December 4, 2013 | By Jim Stovall | Filed in: Home, teaching journalism.

Pocket_slide_ruleIn my quest to get high school journalism teachers (an a few of my colleagues at the collegiate level) to stop concentrating on print journalism and start teaching online journalism, I have lately been using the following analogy:

Teaching journalism with only a newspaper is like teaching math with only a slide rule.

It’s a great analogy — nearly perfect in comparing mathematics and journalism.

The problem is that no one knows what a slide rule is.

That hit me the other day when I was in Nashville, holding a couple of sessions for the Tennessee High School Journalism Association fall workshop at David Lipscomb University. I used that analogy in one session, and the group on eager faces, rather than being dazzled by the brilliance of the analogy, stared at me in silence. They admitted readily that they had no idea what I was talking about.

And these weren’t just the students. The adults in the room, the teachers, said the same thing.

In the days before the hand-held calculator, the slide rule — also known as a slipstick — was a valuable tool in making many kinds of calculations. (You can read a lot more about slide rules by Googling the term.)

But that was then, and this is now. I’ll need to rethink the use of this analogy.


And here’s a video in which I use the analogy:

Why Online Journalism from Jim Stovall on Vimeo.

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