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Journalism education stuck in same oldthink

Mark Glaser’s post about journalism education being stuck in the same Oldthink is generating healthy discussion on the blogosphere.

From Mark in referencing a recent visit to Ball State University:

…the problem, particularly with Ball State’s journalism and communications study programs, is that the school’s philosophy remains mired in a legacy media mindset. You can learn about advertising or PR or newspapers or broadcast or magazines. And the goal of those programs is to get placed into positions as they have been defined for decades: the big PR agency, The New York Times, ABC News, Newsweek……I don’t think for a minute that this is a problem only at Ball State. Almost every interaction I’ve had with journalism schools and their faculty reaffirms that these institutions have a long way to go before they can evolve from the oldthink mindset. There might be pockets of resistance or some innovative projects here and there, but overall the focus of students is to follow in the same footsteps as their professors: Start your career at a podunk daily newspaper and work your way up to the big metro papers, and end up in academia.

Nowhere do students get the inkling that the metro paper might not exist by the time they get there — at least in its current ink-stained format. Nowhere do they learn the ins and outs of being a freelancer, even though they are living in a free agent nation, almost assured of being downsized out of a job at some point. Nowhere do they learn what it takes to moderate an online community, to do outreach into a community and work with citizen journalists and bloggers. The blog, in academia, is looked at by faculty as something to disdain, a lazy way out of doing real journalism; and by students, it is looked at as a leisure time activity, pointless and fun.

I agree. LexBlog is hiring one or two journalism Interns. I contacted Seattle University where the students and academic heads I personally spoke with viewed bloggers as some ‘also rans’ that had some axe to grind. One bright and talented junior had no idea there were bloggers contributing positive information and insight. He had no idea what RSS was or how it was used until he saw my blog.

By the way, if you have similar interests, add MediaShift to your RSS subscribes. MediaShift is an NPR blog hosted by Glasser where he tracks how new media—from blogs to podcasts to citizen journalism—are changing society and culture.

Glaser is a longtime freelance journalist who has written columns for USC Annenberg School of Communication’s Online Journalism Review, the Online Publishers Association, Los Angeles Times, CNET and HotWired, as well as features for the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Entertainment Weekly, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other mainstream and sidestream publications.

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