And so it was the other day when the provost at Indiana University announced she was going to “improve” the university’s award-winning School of Journalism by running it out of Ernie Pyle Hall and mashing it into the College of Arts and Sciences where the scholars in charge will have their way with it. The provost said the journalism education reform we’ve been writing about was part of the reason for change. Yet from all appearances, she knows nothing of our work.
Eric Newton, Knight Foundation. Do Universities Hear the Critics of Journalism Education?
Newton’s piece is an effort to clarify the Knight Foundation’s work on the future of journalism education, which encourages universities to expand their programs, not shrink them, as Indiana University is doing.
Is journalism education getting the message? We’ve been talking about four transformational trends.” Great journalism schools 1. connect with the rest of the university; 2. innovate with digital tools and techniques; 3. master more open,collaborative approaches, and become not just community information providers, but “teaching hospitals” that inform and engage their communities.
Is that message getting through? The first reaction was: We’re doing it! But then schools showed us journalism with no engagement, which is pretty much like hospitals with doctors and medicine but no patients. When we explained, the second reaction was: We can’t do all this! If we teach gizmos, we can’t teach journalism. Wrong again. To teach journalism in the digital age you have to teach both journalism and the digital age — and use modern tools to do it. That’s why the schools that are serious about this are getting bigger, not smaller.
Accompanying the piece is a graphic depicting three layers of journalism education. Schools must do well at the bottom layer in order to climb to the next.
For more, see the report on the Carnegie-Knight Initiative of the Future of Journalism Education.
From the Inbox: I’ve always been curious, is it possible to find work as a journalist without a degree? — Anonymous
I’d like to think it shouldn’t matter. Unlike being a doctor or a lawyer, there aren’t license or degree requirements for practicing journalism.
It might be harder to initially get your foot in the door but if you have the skills and the portfolio, people will (or should) look at that before checking out where or where you didn’t go to school.
Here’s what Joe Grimm once wrote at Poynter:
Some great journalists working today do not have college degrees. Few of the people working around them give it much thought or even know their degree status. It is all about “what have you done lately?”
Magda Abu-Fadil, a foreign correspondent and director of the Journalism Training Program at the American University of Beirut, doesn’t believe a journalism degree should be required but notes the realities of the job market in this interview with the International Journalists’ Network.
I don’t know if it’s worth all the money spent going to journalism school today since the landscape is changing so fast and we’re in a race against time with all the new technology, but it’s definitely worth investing in a degree since most employers still require it.
These challenges do not erase the simple fact that most journalism jobs are off-limits to all applicants who have not completed at least one internship. No internships = no job. It really is that simple. Many students, it seems, refuse to believe this applies to them. These are usually the students who are obsessed with getting high grades — as if anyone in a newsroom would ever care what grade you got in any class! (No one but a graduate school cares what your grades were.)
Hope this helps, and good luck. — Michael
Have a question? Ask away.
This isn’t strictly journalism-related, but any tips on how to get sponsored to go to academic conferences? I thought to ask here since I’m hoping to volunteer to blog and do outreach to US institutions in exchange for help with travel expenses (it’s abroad but discussing issues pertinent to the US and students especially). Any other recommendations for what to do to get there or organizations that might be helpful? Again, I know this isn’t perfectly FJP-related, but thanks for reading! — Anonymous
I’m not good at this but my brother is and his solution is simply this: ask.
As in, there’s no harm in asking for what you want. The worst that can happen is someone says no.
The idea actually works well for pretty much anything. Ask, follow up, be respectfully persistent, let it drop if you don’t get the response you’re looking for. As said, I’m not good at it, my brother get’s frustrated at my inability to do this, and I’m perpetually amazed by the things he goes off and does because he simply asked.
In your case, who knows, maybe you’ll be surprised.
So, literally just get in touch with the organization that’s putting on the event, and get in touch with any other organizations that are remotely associated with it. And then tell them what you’ll do.
How do you figure out who’s involved? Go to the Web site and look at the event sponsors. If none of them work out, think of other organizations or brands or companies that somehow fit in the general spot you’re talking about.
If you get a bite, outline your skills and tell them what you can do for them. For example, I can write, rock the social web, film, create interesting illustrations. Whatever it is, tell them. And then do it.
Who knows, beyond supplementing travel expenses, they might pay you to actually do things. And if we’re talking payment here, or a desire to be paid, see this post from earlier today. It’s important.
Note that all this will probably fall under some sort of “Content Marketing” umbrella and they’ll ask you to do X, Y or Z.
And I ask you to understand that because that’s generally the quid pro quo being played here and you have to be comfortable playing it before getting involved with it.
Some people are, some aren’t. But you need to know. — Michael
If they’re not on your calendar mark it now:
Yes, you should apply.
Digiday came out with an interesting compilation of perspectives on millennials (aka Gen Y, born in from the ’80s to the 2000’s) who comprise the new crop of working professionals in ad agencies.
The ad exec’s perspective seems largely to be that millennials feel excessively entitled, are at times over-payed and are inclined to having big ideas but no mastery of a craft. Example: an agency executive talking about a millennial he hired and then let go (via WTF Millennials: Managing Agencies’ Newest Generation:
He didn’t know how to do anything. He could talk about stuff and criticize what agencies were doing but really added no value. At one point, I walked by his desk and saw Facebook on one monitor and Tweetdeck on another. I told him that he’s so good at social media that he’s totally unproductive. We let him go a few days later. In his mind, he nailed the task and moved on to help get the ad industry back on track. Sigh. The overconfidence, zero accountability and zero remorse is 100 percent millennial. They don’t get the concept of learning.
The millennial’s perspective seems to be one which struggles to reconcile with one too many contentions: old-school divisions of labor, integrating digital and traditional advertising, and harder, bigger questions like how to maintain (idealistic?) values of openness, honesty and social good, while working in an industry that isn’t exactly reputed for these things. They’re left unable (and perhaps unwilling) to master a craft because of a lack of the bigger picture, and at times a lack of mentorship to get there.
FJP: I thought about using Tumblr’s chat-post format to excerpt these pieces as a conversation between millennials and ad execs, but in my mind, the perspectives don’t really speak to each other. Though I don’t work in advertising, the conversation touches on adjacent industries just the same. The problem seems to be that many of us (millennials) view “learning” as a very intentional (and arguably selfish) affair. I’m certainly victim to the big ideas and not enough craft dilemma but it’s because I want to master a craft if I’m driven to on a personal level, and that drive entirely comes from having a clear vision of the big picture—confidence that my efforts today won’t lead to another future in which social good is at the bottom of the priority list, and profit is at the top. This attitude won’t work well in the average entry-level position, but it’s often our only entry point. I’ve been lucky enough to receive an education and professional mentors who encourage me to go long with my big ideas, which in turn makes me want to be accountable. Not an easy environment to create but much gratitude to those who’ve done it. —Jihii