Jeff Jarvis is already bragging about his new book, Public Parts, out today on Kindles, iPads, Nooks and whatever's left of bookshelves. It's the latest topic for his self-built hype machine that goes at his dislike of Washington (first the government, then the city), his play-by-play of 9/11, or his fight with prostate cancer with the same overcaffeinated zeal of a guy who must have the last word. Nothing seems to be off-limits in his world, which he shares with 81,000 Twitter followers (at least) hourly, nor too low-stakes to tussle over, which has earned him a reputation as a shameless self-promoter to some and a savvy media mogul and thinker to others. He also happens to be in charge of shaping the minds of America's budding journalists, including, for a semester, mine.
It’s late in the day of orientation when first-semester graduate students at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism meet Jeff Jarvis, the head of the school’s Interactive Journalism department. Their backs are crooked and slumped from sitting in a plastic chair for the last six hours, their wills broken down by the realization that their social lives will be non-existent for the next year. And along comes this lanky guy who barely fills out his suit, who resembles the “Good Wizard” from a Lego toy set, selling you sexy journalism at a slap-dash pace in a Keith Olbermann-like voice. He tells you that Facebook is your friend, that print is dying, and that Twitter is unadulterated, raw, unctuous journalism, and for a second, maybe it's because it's the middle of August or perhaps it's the mere mention of Facebook, students seem to catch their second wind.