October 10, 2002
7:38 AM   Subscribe

Columbia University President Lee Bollinger's decision to postpone the selection of a new dean of the Graduate School of Journalism and instead form a task force to rethink the school's direction and purpose has inspired some media commentators to ask the question: do journalism schools do any good? Claire Hoy is skeptical; Jack Shafer seems to be neither for them nor against them.
posted by mcwetboy (7 comments total)
As somebody who recently considered going to J-school, I find this pretty interesting (I've since decided against it). Having a bachelors degree in economics, and not having taken any classes journalism related (with the possible exception of Intro to Mass Media) I find this debate and the information inside pretty eye-opening.

I always assumed that most reporters have at least bachelors degrees in journalism, if not masters. From what the two columns linked last in the post say, there are plenty of other ways to dig into the journalism industry. Maybe they're just speaking this way b/c they are already in, established, and comfortable. As somebody with no journalism experience (save the editorial page in the Tulsa World) I would find it extremely intimidating to try to break into the scene. I would think that the odds are stacked extremely against me. This is why I decided to find a different route to grad school and life. Maybe I was wrong, but I'm still not convinced.

I would think, however, that taking j-schools out of the Ivory Tower would somehow impact the media. The answer to me is not so much scrapping the programs entirely, but re-formatting them. The University of Missouri program cited in the Slate article sounds more like the way to go, not just for j-schools, but for all grad schools (if not undergrad as well). And from the Claire Hoy article, it sounds as if we need to do some changing in the admission requirements for j-schools. To have students that are apathetic and lazy (on the aggregate she paints a pretty gloomy picture of j-school students) obviously damages the program. Your programs are only going to be as good as the students and the professors. Make half of that equation a zero, and you're still left with zero.

Any thoughts from established journalists, or j-school grads? Thanks for bringing this up mcwetboy. I thought it was interesting.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:19 AM on October 10, 2002

I'll just add that I enjoyed this too. Very interesting. Bollinger is new but he has an excellent reputation from U of Michigan. Columbia is the seat of the Pulitzer Prize. If they dropped their J-School what would become of the award?
posted by putzface_dickman at 10:56 AM on October 10, 2002

Didn't U of Michigan drop its J-school under Bollinger's watch?
I graduated from j-school and still work in the profession, but I can honestly say that I think I would have done just as well with a journalism minor and a major and, perhaps, post-grad studies in another field.
posted by chandy72 at 11:36 AM on October 10, 2002

If you're talking about newswriting, then yeah, there's little necessary, from a training standpoint, about j-school (speaking as someone who has taken several J-school classes at UNC). Graphic design, broadcasting, advertising, which are sometimes offered at j-schools and sometimes not, are a different story.
posted by gsteff at 12:04 PM on October 10, 2002

I think that by the time you get to the grad level, the worthwhile parts of Journalism are subsumed in other disciplines. As for the undergrad thing (which I experienced, I think the whole journalism/mass comm thing is tres lame and, in my case embarassed. So no, I'm not giving any $ to Boston University's College of Communication. Or School of Public Communication.
posted by ParisParamus at 12:12 PM on October 10, 2002

Good post (although BU's SPC did have some hot co-eds!)
posted by ParisParamus at 12:13 PM on October 10, 2002

Further reading: Searching for the Perfect J-School, by Brent Cunningham, Columbia Journalism Review (via Anil).
posted by mcwetboy at 7:19 AM on November 5, 2002

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