Journalism and communications schools are at a crossroads. The old ways of teaching are being questioned and new forms of decentralized, online teaching are being tried at various schools. While journalists might not require the certification of doctors or therapists, their skill set is being pushed beyond the traditional “print,” “broadcast,” “PR” monikers and into multimedia, web design, programming and much more. So what’s the best way for people to acquire journalism skills? Are the schools still the best place for that? Does online learning help bridge the gap? Can mentoring and experience alone prepare someone for a career (or hobby) as a journalist? Or can watching old movies do the trick? Vote in our poll and share your extended thoughts in the comments. Check out our entire “Back to J-School Series” and listen to a terrific discussion on this topic on this week’s podcast.
I chose mix of school and practice. we, Panyapiwat Institute of Management, Thailand, are using a work-based Learning model for Journalism and all other majors. Our Journalism students will work at the media companies every other three months from Year two to four. We have tried the model with the corporate comm students. They are improving the news gathering and writing skill a lot faster than being in class alone.
The vast majority (at least when I voted) support the current model: J-school or J-classes, work on the college paper and an internship or two. I still believe having a liberal education is also an important ingredient.
I agree with Mark–you learn a lot more than just journalism with a college degree. And any journalism degree that doesn’t include a lot of practical experience through student-run media, and internships isn’t much of a degree.
Reporters need to learn how to communicate like teachers instead of entertainers.
Writing about today’s most important facts is necessary but it is also distracting voters from remembering yesterday’s most important facts. This is why the prescient pre-crisis journalism on the housing bubble and subprime mortgage fraud was ignored by politicans and bureaucrats. The information was forgotten by voters as white noise in a more colorful news media world of terrorism and sex scandals. And there has been many news articles about our tax code since the reforms of 1986 but nothing was accomplished to stop the lobbyists for the rich and powerful from corrupting our tax code and government.
The quickest way to reform our government would be to reform the news media but this will never happen because reporters prefer to communicate like entertainers instead of teachers.
I am currently half way through a Bachelors in Journalism, here in the North of England. Two separate news editors and several staff jounalists have told me that no editor will look at me if I don’t have the NCTJ. This translates to an added cost of between 3 and 6 thousand pounds. My Bachelors degree, which will have eventually cost me enough money to have gotten onto the housing ladder is not worth the paper it is written on when sitting before a news editor at interview, apparently.
Being that there are no loans available from Student Finance England to take the NCTJ, and being that as a working class man, with a family, I will never have £5000 hanging around, I think then, we can all agree, that the news industry is a playground for the sons of the wealthy.
During my work placement I was dismayed to find that almost all of the journalists I spoke to – under, say, 40 years old – had taken the NCTJ, and very few of them were from a low income background. Very few of them had any real life experience to mention, and quite a few of them spent their time watching their twitter feed in the hope of filling a few empty centimetres. I was put in mind of working in a call centre.
I already make a small living as a feature writer and photojournalist. I have and can bring back a good, hard hitting news piece just by walking down the street. I would put money on that any day of the week.
I am currently working on a story of discrimination against children with special needs by a leading Academy school; a school which routinely sends students on to Oxbridge and from there onto government. This didn’t come from twitter.
I have recently had published a 1400 word piece on segregation in the North West of England. I have had published, among others, an expose on un-taxed tobacco smuggling and an in depth interview with the former leader of a South Manchester heroin smuggling ring. In that case I was eventually allowed a meeting after receiving a scrap of paper with a time, a date, a postcode and the word ‘satnav’ scribbled upon it. I drove to the spot and I got my interview. It was offered up for syndication.
And yet, it seems, I will never be a news journalist because I cannot afford to take the NCTJ after accruing a debt of close the £30,000 for my degree. So, what is the best way to become train to be a journalist, other than having a rich family? you tell me, because – in the parlance of my peers – I’ll be f*cked if I know.