Thursday, May 26, 2005

Trickle down journalism?

I check out the Poynter Institute Web site from time to time and today I found this article. It sounds like a good idea, as far as it goes. I'm certainly not going to argue against foundations giving money to help universities do a better job of training journalists.

But even as I applaud the concept, I wish that the Carnegie and Knight foundations would consider funneling some of this funding to the schools most future journalists actually attend. Be real. The majority of the next generation of journalists will not be attending Columbia, Northwestern or Berkley. They'll be at places like the University of Missouri or Kansas State University (or any other of a number of state universities around the country that have journalism programs). For example: K-State's A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications has 600 undergraduate journalism majors. It's the largest program in the College of Arts & Sciences (this statistic is from the lastest issue of Alumni Update, the magazine for School of Journalism alumni). Missouri has a nationally recognized journalism program. Many smaller schools train the journalists who work at the average daily newspaper you find in cities and towns around the country.

Sure, improving training at some of the elite schools may have an effect at the elite media level. Except that the larger the news organization, the more entrenched the old ways are. But meanwhile, professors and newspaper advisors at most schools deal with funding crises, meddlesome administrations and crumbling facilities. And new journalists go out into the world to work long hours for low pay, little recognition and, these days, face lots of criticism. For this ambitious project to have real effect in the practice of journalism, news organizations are going to have to be willing to make some changes, too. We'll see what happens.

1 comment:

Stan F. said...

As a Missouri Journalism grad, I am disappointed with the schools chosen for the grants. Schools like Missouri, KU, K-state focus on practicing journalism - with a strong emphasis on theory - whereas the others take the more "academic" approach, that can leave them separated from the "real world."

I do agree that dual-degree programs would be helpful.