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Why journalism should be a required course in law school

March 25, 2007

Practicing lawyers, acting as citizen journalists via their blogs, are covering legal stories and cases with depth and insight not possible by the traditional press.

I may not agree with their political views, but blogs such as Talk Left by Jeralyn Merritt and Power Line by John Hinderaker & Scott Johnson have huge readership. Such blogs are advancing discourse and influencing public opinion on major national issues.

And these guys are not alone. Practicing lawyers covering issues as diverse as telecom law, privacy law and divorce law are blogging by the thousands.

Dave Winer has a great point that journalism should be taught across all majors.

It’s too late to be training new journalists in the classic mode. Instead, journalism should become a required course, one or two semesters for every graduate. Why? Because journalism like everything else that used to be centralized is in the process of being distributed. In the future, every educated person will be a journalist, as today we are all travel agents and stock brokers. The reporters have been acting as middlemen, connecting sources with readers, who in many cases are sources themselves. As with all middlemen, something is lost in translation, an inefficiency is added. So what we’re doing now, in journalism, as with all other intermediated professions, is decentralizing. So it pays to make an investment now and teach the educated people of the future the basic principles of journalism.

Winer’s words are spot on for would be lawyers looking to enhance their reputations as reliable and trusted authorities as they practice. I know you’re stressed enough with the required class load in law school, but there are worse ideas than auditing a class or two over at the journalism school.

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