A Review of Trends in Journalism Education. ERIC
by Brynildssen, Shawna
Recently, Columbia University suspended the search for a new dean of
its graduate school of journalism and asked faculty to develop "a greater
sense of shared understanding... of where we hope to go" (Rosen, 2002).
Jay Rosen, chairman of the Department of Journalism at New York University
praised Columbia's willingness to question "the balance between two curricular
aims in the modern journalism school." Rosen explained that of the two
aims, "One builds the basic skills of reporting and editing. The other
enlarges the understanding that future journalists will place behind those
skills" (Rosen, 2002).
This balancing act between goals is not a new one for journalism education.
Discussions between media professionals and media researchers regarding
the relative values of practical skills and theoretical/liberal arts education
began following WWII, and they have waxed and waned in intensity since
(Dickson, 2001; Dickson and Brandon, 2000). Today, some researchers continue
to discuss the balancing of skills and conceptual content (Ryan and Switzer,
2001). Other scholars, however, urge the academy to abandon this theory
versus practice discussion to focus instead on how well programs teach
critical self-reflection (Deuze, 2001).
Despite the lively debate and the plethora of terms used in the discussion,
mass communication educators (at colleges and universities throughout the
United States and the world) continue to struggle to define the direction
journalism education should take. This digest will examine some of the
more recent issues raised in discussions of journalism education.
For a 2001 symposium on the state of journalism and mass communication
education at U.S. colleges and universities, nine educators and professionals
who have influenced communication curricula and practice were asked to
comment on the "enduring issues" communication students will confront (Cohen,
2001, p. 5). These commentaries, as well as other recent articles, present
several common issues:
* the need to focus on service to the public;
* the need to address challenges posed by new economic, technological,
and social realities; and
* the need to make journalism and mass communication education and practice
diverse, inclusive, and global.
SERVE PUBLIC, NOT INDUSTRIES
The first theme focuses on which master journalism education should
serve. Symposium commentators said that instead of worrying whether journalism
programs are producing the kinds of staffers news industry leaders say
they want, journalism educators should ask whether the journalists they
train are prepared to serve the public weal.
Stephen D. Reese, director of the School of Journalism at the University
of Texas at Austin, urged educators to look beyond the skills students
need to perform entry-level jobs. Instead, journalism faculty must strive
"to educate the future leaders of this profession," and journalism scholarship
must be "professional," which includes being "committed to important social
ends" and "testing theory in the field" (Cohen, 2001, pp. 6-7).
Another symposium participant, Lana Rakow, called for a "new debate
about professionalism" focused on service to the public rather than to
media industries. Rakow warned that "...the very anxieties over convergence
and new technologies that have made us rethink what and how we teach will
make us sooner rather than later face the questions of why and for whom
we teach" (Cohen, 2001, p. 12).
This public service focus, however, does not mean journalism educators
should isolate themselves from the media industries. Rather, the academy
and industry leaders need to work together now more than ever. As symposium
participant John Maxwell Hamilton urged, journalism research can and should
be relevant to industry leaders; educators should use their "intellectual
muscle" to help the industries improve (Cohen, 2001, p. 18).
ECONOMIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL CHALLENGES
Symposium commentator Loren Ghiglione, dean of Northwestern University's
journalism school, argued that students must understand "that they cannot
do their best journalism until they can put the issues of the day in historical,
technological, cultural and economic context" (Cohen, 2001, p. 15). Likewise,
to determine the appropriate course for journalism education, academics
must address the impacts of economic, technological, and social challenges
faced by today's media industries.
* Economics. According to symposium commentator David Brancaccio, mergers
and acquisitions in the media industries in the 1990s and the development
of new communication technologies have increased the influence media funding
has over content. Brancaccio argues that, just as political science departments
have focused on money and politics, "Mass communications curricula should
fully embrace the equally crucial area of Money & Content" (Cohen,
2001, p. 11). Another symposium commentator Tom Jacobson concluded that
the recent concentration of media ownership has created a "corporate colonization"
of many newsrooms and a disturbing trend toward "infotainment." If this
trend continues, Jacobson warns, journalism educators' debates about "core
knowledge won't matter. The democratic system will be without a Fourth
Estate" (Cohen, 2001, p. 20).
* Technology. According to one journalism researcher, mass communication
educators generally adopt one of two distinct approaches to new technologies:
incorporation or experimentation. Some educators try to incorporate new
technologies into existing journalistic norms and practices. Huesca (2000),
however, advocates against "mere incorporation." Instead, he argues that
the academy must be willing to reinvent journalism education and experiment
with "practices that are congruent with the imputed properties of cyberspace"
(Huesca, 2000, p. 4). Unlike traditional news stories where a single author
"exerting an authoritative voice" creates a report with a fixed reading
order, a Web-based hypertext story can offer multiple perspectives and
multiple narrative paths from which readers can select (Huesca, 2000, pp.
5-6). Because of this, Huesca encourages educators to be "flexible, creative,
and open-minded experimenters who are not wedded to given conventions of
journalism" (Huesca, 2000, p.14).
CULTURAL AND GLOBALIZATION CHALLENGES
Particularly in light of recent world events, several scholars have
called for increased efforts to make journalism and journalism education
diverse, inclusive, and global. As symposium commentator Carol Liebler
noted, "[E]ducation in a homogenous setting will leave our students ill-prepared
to be well-informed citizens, let alone media practitioners, in this global
village" (Cohen, 2001, p. 8).
In the United States and elsewhere, educators and journalists must recognize
the various social and national levels (Starck, 2000; Morgan, 2000). At
the same time, educators must encourage students to see beyond their nation's
boundaries (Bartram, 2000; Holm, 2002). National, physical, social, and
cultural borders are beginning to "erode," in part because of the rapid
growth in the concentration of media ownership. For this reason, journalism
educators should break away from the traditional national approach and
focus student efforts on "critical self-reflection" that can improve understanding
of transnational social and cultural issues (Holm, 2002, p. 70). Much work
however, to make journalism and mass communication programs more diverse.
One research review found that so far, few departments are developing either
multicultural courses or materials (Manning-Miller and Dunlap, 2002).
VIEW FROM HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATORS
The apparent difficulty experienced by college-level scholars wrestling
with the "skills versus concept" balancing act may not be shared by their
high-school level counterparts. As one Florida teacher explained, high
school journalism seems to be "the most overall perfect course" precisely
because it requires students to blend their knowledge base with practical
experience (Evanchyk, 2000, p. 10). Nor do enrollment statistics suggest
that high school graduates entering college are daunted by the prospect
of balancing skills and theory. In fall 2000, undergraduate enrollment
in U.S. journalism and mass communication programs increased dramatically
as enrollment reached an all-time high (Becker et al, 2001).
Journalism education today thus reveals itself to be dynamic and introspective,
continuing to redefine its mission and its methods in response to evolving
technolo-gies, global culture, and the needs of the media industries and
the patrons which they serve.
Bartram, J. (2000). Training international journalists. AsiaPacific
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Becker, L. B. & Vlad, T., Huh, Jisu, & Prine, J. (2001). Annual
enrollment report number of students studying journalism and mass communication
at all-time high. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 56(3),
28-60. [EJ 636 857]
Cohen, J. (2001). Symposium: Journalism and mass communication education
at the crossroads. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 56(3),
4-27. [EJ 636 856]
Deuze, M. (2001). Educating "new" journalists: Challenges to the curriculum.
Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 56(1), 4-17. [EJ 626 232]
Dickson, T. & Wanda, Brandon. (2000). Media criticisms of U.S. journalism
education: Unwarranted, contra-dictory. AsiaPacific MediaEducator, 8, 42-58.
[EJ 640 771]
Dickson, T. (2001). Training for community journalism in the U.S.A.
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Evanchyk, L. (2000). Journalism: Quite possibly the perfect course.
Quill & Scroll, 74(4), 10-11. [EJ 609 486]
Holm, H. (2002). The forgotten globalization of journalism education.
Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 56(4), 67-71. [EJ 642 883]
Huesca, R. (2000). Reinventing journalism curricula for the electronic
environment. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 55(2), 4-15.
[EJ 611 096]
Manning-Miller, C. L. & Dunlap, K. B. (2002). The move toward pluralism
in journalism and mass communication education. Journalism & Mass Communication
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Morgan, F. (2000). Recipes for success: Curriculum for professional
media education. AsiaPacific MediaEducator, 8, 4-21. [EJ 640 768]
Rosen, J. (2002, September 6). Taking Bollinger's course on the American
press. The Chronicle of Higher Education, p. B10.
Ryan, M. & Switzer, L. (2001). Balancing arts and sciences, skills,
and conceptual content. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, 56(2),
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Starck, K. (2000). Negotiating professional and academic standards in
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