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I No Longer Believe in the Profession of Journalism

University of Missouri

Two years ago, on Feb.13, 2015, I wrote a post on this site titled “I Believe in the Profession of Journalism,” a line taken from the Journalist’s Creed written by Walter Williams, founder and first dean of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

A former student who had been in a journalism class I taught many years ago had asked me what I thought should be done about Brian Williams who was then nightly news anchor for NBC News and had “misrepresented events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003.” My opinion was that he should be fired forthwith because I still believed in the profession of journalism as defined by Walter Williams in that long creed I had to memorize before I was granted the B.J. degree. I have always been very proud of that degree, for at the time The University of Missouri School of Journalism was the most respected undergraduate school of journalism in the country.

As it turned out, Brian Williams was fired.

Now, however, two years have passed. Brian Williams is being rehabilitated at MSNBC. Dan Rather, who participated in journalistic fraud resulting in the firing of three producers and his leaving his position as anchor of the CBS evening news, is opining all over the place, demanding that the truth be told (!) and we are bombarded daily by “fake news,” stories that because of careless reporting, devious manipulation or outright deception turn out to be false. We no longer know what to believe.

We should not be surprised. The political climate is so acrimonious that there is little appetite for balanced or accurate reporting. Brian Williams’ embroidery of his experience made his account more exciting and entertaining for his audience. But there is a different more sinister motive behind current journalistic deception. It is simply to delegitimize a presidency. The perpetrators make no bones about it.

It breaks my heart to say it, but I no longer believe in the profession of journalism as defined by Walter Williams. The only way we might recover is through the education of a new generation of critical thinkers. But given the state of American education, that seems like a long shot.



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Merry Christmas from Mary and Herb



December 22, 2016 · 10:49 am

Countdown to Christmas

atmAs December’s days grow darker                                        HWK

and presents remain unbought,

it’s plainer every day what counts

is the cost and not the thought.

From Cartoons and Comments, a forthcoming volume of poetry by Herb Knapp.

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Countdown to Christmas: The DIY Christmas Card

On those days when I spend an hour or so talking to Mac tech support on the telephone, I yearn for the simplicities of yesterday.

On the other hand, I can’t deny that the digital age has wrought magical transformations that in some respects make life a lot easier —and generally better.

Take the family photo Christmas card.

Today you take the picture with your digital camera and determine right away whether or not you got a good shot. If not, you try again, and when you’re satisfied, you can transfer the photo to your computer, go to Shutterfly, poke a few keys, type in your credit card information, and pretty soon, beautiful full-color cards appear in your mailbox.

In my family, back in the day, the photo Christmas card was a DIY project of the highest order. Production began immediately after Halloween.

Once we decided on how we were going to pose, it was time for the photo shoot.

piano-christmas-card-r1Ah, the photo shoot (or shoots)! There was no way of knowing until the film was developed and a contact sheet was in hand whether or not we all looked pleasant. Often we did not; for several years, one of us had the habit of making a funny face just as the shutter clicked. The photo shoot could go on for days.

Eventually we were successful and Dad then engaged the assistance of a business contact, a printer who had one of his artists hand letter a greeting on an 8×10 print. The lettered print was then photographed, producing a negative that we used to make our cards in the basement darkroom. “We” meaning my Dad and I, my sisters being too young to be helpful, and mother not much interested in the seriously boring position of darkroom assistant.

Producing the cards required hours spent in the darkroom under a red light. My job was to take the tongs and wiggle each print in the developing solution, transfer it to the stop bath, and then the fixative.  The process could not be rushed. The prints then had to be washed to remove the chemicals, but I can’t for the life of me remember how we did that.

I do remember that we placed the wet prints in between two long sheets of blotting paper that stretched across the living room floor. We then rolled them up and set them aside until the prints were dry.

Today it’s so much easier—so much faster.

But I’m not so sure my Dad would agree that it’s better. He had a lot of fun making the cards, he worked hard at it, and he was very proud of the result.

When machines become so competent that they can do what you pride yourself on doing,  it’s sometimes hard to figure out what you can be proud of. MLK

* * * * * * * * * *

My mother never bought a Christmas card in her life.

She drew her own; the verses were her original compositions. Before I was born, she was the office manager for a printer, who printed the cards for her. She then colored them by hand.

After I came along, my mother quit work to become a full time mom. She remained friends with her former boss, the printer, but she never returned to the work force. She was a true self-starter, a bright woman with a great deal of energy and promise. No doubt in my mind that she could have been a contender in the business world. Instead, she threw herself into being an energetic homemaker and continued to make the Christmas cards until my Dad died and she quit sending cards altogether. HWKme-card

We wish you a Christmas

As Warm and As Bright

As Our Hearth’s crackling flame

And the Star’s twinkling light.

Herbert, Mary Ellen, Herb, Maralee, Mark

Knapp, ’52


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Countdown to Christmas

starI plug the lights in then I climb a chair.

Behind me, you direct me from afar,

telling me what I’m too close to see

as I adjust the star.

From Reading and Rhyming, a forthcoming volume of poetry by Herb Knapp


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Our Family Thanksgiving Prayer


Thirteen years ago, I wrote this prayer for our family, which then included a child. That little boy is now a semi-adult, but we are all still immensely grateful for the blessings enumerated here:

Dear God,

At this time of Thanksgiving, we thank you for our many blessings:

We thank you especially for our family and our happy homes.

We thank you for giving us all the food we need and want to eat.

We thank you for nice clothes, a comfortable bed, hot water, and a warm house.

We thank you for doctors who help make us well when we are sick.

We thank you for teachers who help us learn.

We thank you for the precious gift of our talents.

We thank you for music, and paintings, and books.

We thank you for our country—for the brave men who had the idea for our nation in the first place, and for the brave men and women who fight for our freedoms and to protect us from our enemies.

God bless us all. Help us always to do the right thing and to be grateful every day.




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Subtlety is Out

“Under Yale’s sexual misconduct policy. . .sexual assault includes any contact without ‘positive, unambiguous, and voluntary consent’. According to Yale, consent must be ‘ongoing’ at each stage of an encounter but ‘cannot be inferred from the absence of a ‘no’.”

Jennifer Braceras, “College Sex Meets the Star Chamber,” Wall Street Journal, Oct. 23, 2016




I hear that there’s a law (A law no less!)

that “yes” means “yes.” Oh, no. It’s not

for politicians. It’s designed

for college guys with sex in mind.

Like children playing Mother, May I.

You remember, “Mother, may I take

two baby steps?” “One giant step?”

Anyhow, according to this law,

each sexual step must be preceded by

a clear request and answered, “Yes.”

He asks, “Is it okay to . . .” “What? she wonders,

He does, too. His brain is tied in knots.

They didn’t start this with a list of wants.

Life is cloudy; clarity’s for bots.

From the just-released Did You See This? Poems to Provoke the Politically Correct by Herb Knapp. To see more poems from this book, go to


And yes, in New York state, “affirmative consent ” has actually been codified into law.


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