Two years ago, TIME'S Education Department started a special program for U.S. college students. The plan was to assign a team of writer-editor lecturers to visit campuses across the country, speak to journalism classes and other students, and be available for discussion groups. The speakers were prepared to talk on the latest news issues, discuss the functions and responsibilities of reporting news today, and be targets in question-answer sessions. Last month the second lecture season was over, and TIME'S speaking team (Frank McNaughton, John Scott and Frank Shea) returned with a solid respect for this year's crop of undergraduates.
Speaker McNaughton, a veteran correspondent who covered Congress from TIME'S Washington office for ten years, spoke mainly about domestic politics on his tour, and was struck by one special concern among the students he met. That concern was academic freedom, congressional investigations and Communism. Wrote McNaughton: "I have spoken at some 50 colleges and universities. I have sat in bull sessions with hundreds of students, and answered thousands of questions in open forums. It is my belief that if the Communists are depending on the professors to achieve their revolution, they are betting a miserably weak hand. The students are reading widely and seriously, and asking pertinent questions: 'If we are going to defeat Communism, how will we ever do it without understanding what it is, how it operates and what makes it appeal to different groups? Wouldn't it be better if every college [like Duquesne] openly maintained an institute of Communism? On this last lecture tour, I found the students themselves more aroused over investigations than the professors who are the targets of investigations."
John Scott, former Moscow correspondent and TIME Bureau Chief in Stockholm and Berlin, found students particularly interested in European politics, changes in the Kremlin and the future of Germany. As did the other speakers, he also ran into tough criticism of as well as praise for TIME'S reporting on these critical areas. Particular criticism came from those journalism students who upheld the "cult of suspended judgment" trying to be objective without taking a stand on an issue. (Scott's answer: Merely reporting the facts is not enough. An understanding of the meaning behind the facts is necessary for an intelligent judgment of the news today.)