Journalism students are often told these days that if they want to make it in today's tough job market, they need to "build their personal brand."  One high profile journalist challenged that advice in a column which led to an interesting debate online.

A journalism student who wrote to a Washington Post columnist recently to ask how he built his "personal brand" got a very public and provocative response. Gene Weingarten wrote a column condemning the way "branding" is ruining journalism and criticizing the professor who issued the assignment.

"The best way to build a brand is to take a three-foot length of malleable iron and get one end red-hot. Then, apply it vigorously to the buttocks of the instructor who gave you this question. You want a nice, meaty sizzle," he wrote.

The rest of the column outlines why he thinks the push toward personal branding is redefining and ruining the craft.

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His comments prompted a debate online, led by Steve Buttry, whose blog post was headlined "Gene Weingarten knows branding (even though he scorns it)

That post drew a response from Weingarten himself (You're wrong….) and the teacher who issued the assignment started it all.