J-schools continue to falter

7 09 2008

If the newspaper industry is dealing with rough times, J-schools are equally faltering as they attempt to wade the transition from old media to new media and develop classes to teach students the skills they now need in order to be competitive in the real world.

Alana Taylor, a student at NYU, discusses her experience at the school in a post at MediaShift. The class Taylor is taking, “Reporting Gen Y” is, at the very least, a move forward by the university which understands that its students need more than just good writing and/or editing skills to be successful after graduation. She points out that the professors at NYU typically require students to bring the bulky print edition of the New York Times to class instead of relying on the internet version.

But for many students, this awakening is coming too late — Taylor comments on “Reporting Gen Y” which includes several ‘duhs’ for her. But, as is all too common, her fellow students don’t seem to already know the value of blogs, of Twitter, of other networking or journalism tools. For her fellow students all this talk about blogging was new.

I faced this myself when I had to ask the Board of Editors at the Collegian last week if we could get our paper on Twitter.

“First of all,” I said, “who knows what Twitter is and what exactly it does?”

(blank stares)

After a brief summary, I explained the benefits that other news organization have found by using the service and told other editors how through RSS feeds we could set up the account with virtually no maintenance whatsoever.

While the editor in chief was quick to accept Twitter (as an experiment at the very least), I’m still astonished at the lack of online innovation and knowledge among other reporters and editors. Perhaps they don’t understand the social networking site? Perhaps they think it’s dumb — why not just use Facebook or Gmail status, some probably say? But have they ever used it, to its full advantage? That’s the sort of problem with Twitter. You have to really use it in every single way possible as a journalist before you can reasonable say yes it does work or no it doesn’t.

I myself was skeptical about Twitter at first — how could this help me report? How many of my friends actually use it? But, I’ve found the service exceedingly useful through feeds from news organization as well as networking with other young journalists. It even got me into Tomorrow’s News, Tomorrow’s Journalist, an up-and-coming blog just for young journos to discuss the industry.

Blogging is another sticky point. I’ve heard editors and reporters alike grumble about having to post on a blog, some saying they don’t really understand it. I know less than a handful who have personal blogs.

While I’m sure it’s hard for J-schools to keep up on the new technologies that emerge each year — like Twitter — they should be stressing that blogging is essential (and fun!); they should be teaching audio and video skills; the skills that have been around for at least five or more years but are still not taught enough.

Every student who pays a ridiculous amount of money to go to J-school, in my case, well over $100,000, should come out knowing how to edit audio, edit video, stream live video, use flash, use soundslides and more.

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8 responses

7 09 2008
Alana Taylor

Great post Katherine. I agree. I think it would be incredible if my journalism class taught me how to write features (which is it’s primary goal) but also taught me how to use the media that is available today to promote my piece or get my information.

Instead of just interviewing people on the street I could interview people live on UStream, or I could get story ideas from Digg, or go out and shoot my own reporting with a flip cam and then upload the video myself, etc. Little details that would make my writing and reporting a little more 2.0.

šŸ™‚

8 09 2008
Luke Appleby

Hey,

Nice post, I have had similar experiences in my short time as a J student.

Some people are just hesitant about trying new things. Straight up. I see it all the time.

We have 25 journos in our class, only 4 students regularly blog. Believe me, I have tried and tried to get people excited about it. No dice.

We may be half way across the world, but it’s good to see some like-minded journos out there.

As for your $100k costs, I don’t know how you do it. My diploma is costing me $5k NZ. Good thing? Bad thing? It’s under right now.

Actually tonight has been very informative, after finally setting up subscriptions for the rest of the TNTJ’s blogs, there are so many! It’s fantastic!

Cheers

8 09 2008
Mindy McAdams

Yo, Kate, where is your LINK? To Alana’s post.

8 09 2008
Teaching Online Journalism

[…] this blog by Penn State journalism student Katharine Lackey: Beyond Print: Looking Into the Prism. Yesterday’s post springboards off a blog post at the MediaShift site in which a journalism student at NYU discusses […]

8 09 2008
Teaching Online Journalism » Students find j-schools lacking

[…] this blog by Penn State journalism student Katharine Lackey: Beyond Print: Looking Into the Prism. Yesterday’s post springboards off a blog post at the MediaShift site in which a journalism student at NYU discusses […]

8 09 2008
Katharine Lackey

It’s there. Maybe I’ll make it stretch over a few more words so that it’s easier to see.

8 09 2008
bydanielvictor

Nice post. Your frustration is very similar to the frustration I feel in my newsroom, but I find yours to be even less acceptable since Collegian folks ought to be more open to those skills. And Penn State ought to be quick to provide them.

If I have time tomorrow or tonight, I’d like to springboard off of this in my own blog.

20 09 2008
Banned: Blogging and Twittering « Beyond Print: Looking Into the Prism

[…] Taylor, who I discussed a couple weeks ago for a post she wrote for MediaShift, has been banned from blogging and […]

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