Rethinking Journalism Education


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Presentation given at the Future of Journalism conference in Cardiff, Wales on Sept. 9/10, 2009

Published in: Education, News & Politics

Rethinking Journalism Education

  1. 1. Rethinking Journalism Education [again] <ul><li>The Future of Journalism </li></ul><ul><li>Cardiff University, Wales </li></ul><ul><li>September 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>Donica Mensing University of Nevada, Reno </li></ul>
  2. 2. Presentation <ul><li>Arguments for change </li></ul><ul><li>One proposal for change </li></ul><ul><li>Recent examples </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion </li></ul>
  3. 3. Basis <ul><li>Dewey, Carey, Rosen, Reese, Zelizer … </li></ul><ul><li>Teaching and researching online journalism for 10 years </li></ul><ul><li>Collaborating in developing a new graduate program </li></ul><ul><li>Reflecting on recent examples </li></ul>
  4. 4. Historic Model Newspapers ____________ Radio and TV stations Magazines Web sites Journalism Schools Educators __________ Students
  5. 5. Industry-centered journalism education <ul><ul><ul><li>Professionalism </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Reporting </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> Socialization </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. 1. Professionalism <ul><li>In 1903 Joseph Pulitzer donated $2 million to Columbia University for a school that would </li></ul><ul><li>“ emphasize the professional significance of journalism” </li></ul><ul><li>and exclude courses related to advertising, circulation and newspaper management. </li></ul>
  7. 7. 1. Professionalism (now) <ul><li>In 2005 the Carnegie Corporation and Knight Foundation pledged $11 million to revitalize journalism education and produce students who are: </li></ul><ul><li>“ well-trained, well-educated, honest, trustworthy, curious, intelligent people” who will devote their lives to their profession (Carnegie, 2005). </li></ul>
  8. 8. Implications <ul><li>Assumes that reformation of journalism depends on individual journalists rather than structural or institutional change </li></ul><ul><li>Ignores contradictions between professionalism and commercialism, between ideals and practices </li></ul><ul><li>Implies a barrier between journalists and citizens </li></ul>
  9. 9. 2. Reporting <ul><ul><li>“ The reporter” is the idealized form of journalist targeted in j-schools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>News gathering is the core skill required of nearly all journalism majors regardless of sequence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Assessment and success is measured by producing students with skills to succeed in industrial news production </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Implications <ul><li>Assumes information scarcity is the primary problem to be solved </li></ul><ul><li>Assumes information is a commodity to be produced and transmitted to a waiting audience </li></ul><ul><li>Emphasizes independent news judgment, verification and objectivity as primary values </li></ul>
  11. 11. 3. Newsroom socialization <ul><li>Many administrators come from industry and conceptualize journalism similarly </li></ul><ul><li>Many faculty teach ‘best practices’ from the newsroom </li></ul><ul><li>Most students are required to do internships in industry and are encouraged to participate in professional competitions </li></ul>
  12. 12. Implications <ul><li>Reinforces existing practices rather than critical inquiry </li></ul><ul><li>Stresses mastery over innovation and experimentation </li></ul><ul><li>Creates a barrier between practitioners and scholars </li></ul>
  13. 13. Journalism Education News Industry The Networked Public Geographic communities/ Communities of interest Proposed Model News Ecology
  14. 14. 1. Professionalism <ul><li>Develop curriculum that stresses the values of citizenship and professionalism </li></ul><ul><li>Develop practices based on critical inquiry and public needs </li></ul><ul><li>Develop ethical criteria relevant in new contexts </li></ul>
  15. 15. 2. Reporting <ul><li>Be more explicit about purpose </li></ul><ul><li>Educate for multiple journalistic roles: filtering, facilitating, moderating, programming, databases </li></ul><ul><li>Enlarge the definitions of story, news element, coverage, deadline </li></ul><ul><li>Reflect on, test and publicly evaluate experiments and experiences </li></ul>
  16. 16. 3. Socialization <ul><li>Socialize students to working in communities (online and offline) </li></ul><ul><li>Teach students to value innovation, uncertainty, experimentation </li></ul><ul><li>Require sophisticated analysis and critical reflection about their own practices </li></ul>
  17. 17. Initial examples <ul><li> (University of Nevada) </li></ul><ul><li>Nuestro Tahoe (University of Nevada) </li></ul><ul><li>Reno Noise (University of Nevada) </li></ul><ul><li>Albany Today (UC Berkeley) </li></ul><ul><li>NewsMixer (Northwestern) </li></ul>
  18. 18.
  19. 19. Nuestro Tahoe
  20. 20. Reno Noise
  21. 21. Albany Today
  22. 22. NewsMixer
  23. 23. Challenges <ul><li>Difficult to collaborate with disparate groups </li></ul><ul><li>Difficult for faculty to make community commitments </li></ul><ul><li>Students want to pursue individualized goals </li></ul><ul><li>Curriculum schedules inflexible and discontinuous </li></ul><ul><li>Innovation and experimentation often not rewarded in traditional academic evaluations </li></ul>
  24. 24. Conclusion <ul><li>This is a critical moment in the evolution of journalism </li></ul><ul><li>Journalism educators can play a key role in experimenting, testing and developing new practices and conceptions of what journalism is and could be </li></ul><ul><li>This work requires that we rethink our own practices within the academy and make our purposes and obligations more explicit </li></ul>
  25. 25. Feedback? <ul><li>Donica Mensing ( [email_address] ) @donica </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>2009-2010 University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy </li></ul><ul><li>August 2010, University of Nevada, Reno, US </li></ul>