Friday, May 19, 2006

On Journalists and Journalism Schools

Jonathan Last, writing for the Wall Street Journal, informs us that more students are going to journalism school at the same time that the number of journalism jobs is declining. Even so, Last argues that the main problem with journalism schools is not the number of students, but the nature of the programs themselves. Traditional journalism programs, according to Last, consist primarily of courses on journalistic processes and writing skills -- subjects areas that could be taught in fewer, less expensive courses. Better preparation for journalistic careers would be provided through broader liberal arts programs.

Last is right. This is not to deny that the various facets of journalism constitute a professional craft that must be learned. However, one of the largest factors contributing to the decline in media credibility is the prevalence of young journalists, both print and broadcast, who simply lack the background to understand the context of what they are reporting on. While some people talk about the loss of trust in media primarily in terms of biased reporting, that is a mistake. The larger issue is one of competence.


Blogger Donna Locke said...

All reporters know their newspaper's bias, and most write for it. As a reporter and later as a news source, I encountered willful ignorance on the part of many "journalists." And an alarming absence of curiosity. Curiosity should be a driving force in any journalist. I've dealt with many reporters who simply ignore offers of relevant information. I've dealt with several reporters who fed me the answers they wanted to report, the ones that fit their paper's bias, apparently the reporter's bias as well. I guess that's why they were hired.

2:39 PM  

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