Networked Journalism Education

J-education for problem solving

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At the RJI conference, Public Trust through Public Engagement, that was live streamed/twittered from Missouri today, Professor Lee Wilkins made this important point, as reported by Bill Densmore:

She [Wilkins] likes some of what medicine does — it is problem-based education. “I wish there were a way, and I have talked about it with some of my students, of putting students in communities ‘who aren’t very like you,’ and do that as an internship and gets you out of your comfort zone and causes you to experience life very much outside of your normal point of view.”

She recalls her earlier career as a police reporter. She covered a county jail, was realtively young and privileged, it sparked for her many important questions. “I wish we could embed it in our curriculum … the opportunity to go out and think about questions that you never thought about before . . . we don’t do nearly enough of that.”

Wilkins is so right about this. How do we help students confront uncomfortable questions they’ve never considered seriously before?

There’s a lot about journalism education that does not resemble medical education. But using problem solving and one-on-one practice as a model of journalism education could do much to help journalism students understand their connection and obligation to others outside of their immediate circle. Without intimate face-to-face attention to a world unlike their own, students (heck, all of us) are liable to conceive of the ‘public’ as a group of people just like ourselves, with everyone else an abstract gray ‘mass.’

Making space for students to think hard about what constitutes a public problem to a specific group of people, and what their journalism could do to make a difference in that context, could invigorate and bring meaning to a classroom in a way that writing copy from recycled press releases will never do.

Written by Donica

November 17th, 2009 at 9:20 am

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