Face to Face With ‘False Necessities’
“If I were to sum up what I have learned, what has changed me, from the nine courses I took and the 62 seminars or forums I have attended (and counting!), it would be the idea, central to my study of comparative constitutional law (under the incomparable Frank Michelman), of ‘false necessities.’ In a given legal order, as in any field or profession, certain values and practices come to be seen as indispensable. A comparison with other legal systems, however, would show that some of these are only contingent on caprice or circumstance. For instance, the very concept of judicial review, on which journalists raised on American-style constitutional traditions depend to protect their rights, means different things in different jurisdictions. To come face to face with that, with the false necessities of life as we have thus far come to understand it, is unnerving and liberating.”

John Nery
senior editor
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Finding Social Capital
“Of the many rich experiences (so far) this year, the most rewarding may be auditing a course that gives me new insight on a topic I already know well—community in America. I’ve had the privilege of joining a small group of undergraduates who meet in professor Robert Putnam’s living room each week this spring to discuss ‘social capital,’ or the intangible benefits we derive from joining groups as diverse as book clubs, service organizations, and bowling leagues. Social capital is closely related to other civic activities—such as voting and volunteering—that are vital to the composition of a community. As an editor, I realize this aspect of community health is important to the success of our news organizations.

“So, when I go home, I won’t just be watching how many stories our newspapers and websites break, or how many subscribers and unique visitors we attract. I’ll be thinking about the dimensions of civic life in our communities and how we enhance them while fulfilling our essential mission of reporting the news.”

David Joyner
vice president for content
Community Newspaper Holdings
Alabama

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