Shaping 21st Century Journalism: Leveraging a “Teaching Hospital Model” in Journalism Education
By C.W. Anderson, Tom Glaisyer, Jason Smith and Marika Rothfeld, August 2011
New America Foundation
Here’s my summary of this excellent 34-page report on journalism education:
The authors argue that journalism schools should become ‘anchor institutions’ in the emerging informational ecosystem. They see journalism schools as serious and valuable producers of meaningful journalism to help meet the information needs of communities.
The authors recognize that students have always covered communities; what is new is the “increasingly central part played by that coverage in the larger media ecosystem, as well as its greater appearance in traditional media outlets” (p. 11). The shift is in how we conceptualize our purpose as a journalism school: to train journalists, to educate citizens, to produce journalism.
They call on journalism programs to:
- Provide students with a broader platform of skills for the journalism of the future
- Extend partnerships with other journalism programs and other programs on their campuses
- Increase coverage of local communities in conjunction with local media
- Collaborate with other journalism schools on state and national news bureaus
- Collaborate on the adoption of open education materials and open source software platforms
- Experiment with ways to move journalism to the center of undergraduate core curriculums
- Extend and focus research towards an agenda that locates journalism in relation to its role in local democracy
- Explore journalism as a community service activity for college students
- Consider operating Web-based news outlets for their local communities
The authors note that j-schools generally take one of three approaches in curriculum revisions:
(1) Adding digital media skills courses
(2) Creating joint degree partnerships with other campus programs
(3) Adding boutique “entrepreneurial or studio journalism” courses to the mix
Examples: CUNY allows students to design a sequence of skills classes without ever declaring allegiance to a specific track; Missouri requires students to major in one of 25 interest areas.
Northwestern and Columbia have developed joint computer science/journalism degrees. Other schools are partnering with business programs and the authors suggest social work is another rich area for collaboration. A number of schools are offering interdisciplinary courses for journalism students to learn how to deeply cover complex topics and become specialized reporters.
A final recommendation in the report is to provide media literacy courses for the general population.
Questions for us:
Do we believe we have a community news mission?
Do we want to become a lab for beta testing new models for journalism?
Do we want to participate in studying and creating new ecosystems for information?
Do we want to move beyond class projects to accepting our purpose as a genuine news institution?
How deeply do we want to engage in promoting media literacy on our campus and community?