I captured the audio with my Olympus DS-30 using a lav. The photo is from the new media panel during Comm Week. Will Payne, from Current TV, is on the right.
Lately, I have been doing a lot of thinking about journalism schools and what journalism students are not learning.
One of the problems is that there’s too much talk. Educators have known about the Internet, multimedia storytelling and convergence for years.
No more excuses.
I realize that this post constitutes talk, but I would like to think of it more as a call to action. To make sure change happens at J-schools, I propose hiring a Resident Butt-Kicker.
I plan to expand on these in future posts, but here’s where we need to start:
1. Online first, print second: Print is not dead, but the idea of a purely “print” major should be thrown out the window. Who wants to pay money to be taught in preparation for the last century?
Start with the essential concepts of writing, reporting, editing, critical thinking, law and ethics, but don’t limit it to merely one form of storytelling. Also, online journalism should not be some 400- or 500-level class that only some students take â€“ it should be drilled into everyone’s head early.
2. Think outside the classroom: How can you teach journalism without practical experience?
Ideas: Structure your class like a newsroom and provide an outlet for publication (e.g. class Web site); require students to work on campus media; require an internship and help place them; etc.
3. Old dogs, learn new tricks: There’s a disconnect among different classes, depending on the professor, as well as an even greater disconnect between professors who have been out of the newsroom for years and those who just came from the newsroom.
The journalism world is moving quickly and schools need to keep pace with their local news outlets so students may be viable job and internship candidates. Just like journalists in the professional world, professors need to be able to adapt and learn new concepts and skills.
Also, why are we being taught in a strict, limited mindset (i.e. print) that we will need to unlearn later? Don’t teach me for today, or even tomorrow.
A journalism school should look ahead, being innovative and proactive in its approach, not reactive. Professors need to be a part of that.
4. Selecting J-students: There should be a multi-dimensional, more personalized interview process for students applying to an academic journalism program. Program directors should ask students about their specific interests in the field, evaluating if the candidate is open minded and willing to evolve.
5. Grades are failing: The grading process needs to change. It seems as if more students worry about getting good grades than actually learning. Grades aren’t worthless, but learning – and getting good experience – matters more.
Unintended, entrepreneurial failure (i.e. not because of laziness) should be embraced and utilized as a teaching tool it is part of the learning process. Thus, students should be encouraged to go out and make mistakes while they are still in school.
6. Establish mentor programs: I hit on this general concept in my Top Ten List of Tips for Journalism Students (No. 7).
Upperclassmen should be paired with underclassmen in a formal, voluntary peer counseling system. Furthermore, every student should meet with a faculty adviser or mentor from time to time and not just to discuss next semester’s schedule.
SPJ recently started a mentor program for members, which is great. Nevertheless, it can’t replace the local insight of a student or professor at your own J-school.
Weigh in: What do you think of these ideas? Students, what else do you want to see done at your school?
Note: The original time stamp on this post was incorrect. It has since been corrected.
I am taping this event and will be liveblogging. Here’s some background information.
From the Comm Week Web site:
News Coverage of Civil Rights in Miami
Panelists representing print and broadcast media will review the media’s coverage of civil rights issues from efforts to desegregate schools and public facilities to beach “wade-ins,” protests and riots that plagued the community on into the ’80s. How aggressive was the local media in covering the civil rights movement? What was it like for the first black reporters at Miami’s newspapers and television stations?
C.T. Taylor, first black TV news reporter in Miami
Bea Hines, former reporter, The Miami Herald
Juanita Green, former reporter, The Miami Herald
Andrea Robinson, reporter, The Miami Herald
Garth Reeves, publisher emeritus, Miami Times
Bradford Brown, former president, Miami-Dade NAACP
Moderator, Beverly Counts Williams, former TV news reporter
Garth Reeves‘ father founded the Miami Times, but he didn’t want to go into the newspaper business.
“One day you’ll find out how valuable this newspaper really is,” his father told him.
After he took over the Times, the younger Reeves began to face tough issues regarding coverage, but the paper had to be restrained in what it published.
“You were practicing journalism with your hands tied behind your back,” he said. “Now we have more kickass journalism. … I’m happy now because you’re as a free as bird.”
C.T. Taylor grew up observing what was going in the community, reading the Miami Times and seeing its impact.
“I always wanted to be in journalism. I always wanted to be a radio announcer.”
He sat with his father and listened to games on the radio. Despite the obstacles, his father said you he could do anything he wanted to do.
“The doors to the media were shut and bolted” at white stations, he said. “But I kept my hope and desire.”
So, he went to a black radio station and they hired him to be a cleaner. While he wasn’t on the air, he kept at it and it paid off. One night, an announcer was drunk and didn’t show up for work. Just like that, he was the radio.
Eventually he became known as C.T. “The undisputed soul of the new breed.”
But he wasn’t satisfied–he wanted to be a TV reporter.
His chance, though not in front of the camera, came when a TV station wanted to hire him as a cameraman.
“I managed to get my black hand in the shot. Then I got a black ear in a shot, then I got the back of my head into the shot.”
Channel 4 saw this and wanted to put him on the air.
“It does not matter what your gender or what your race is,” he said. “The main thing is to be factual and truthful.”
You’re recording history, Taylor said, so you have to get it right.
Bea Hines said that, while they may have hired Taylor to cover the riots, people accused her of starting the riots with her coverage while at The Miami Herald.
Her first day at The Herald was an interesting experience.
Hines went into the lunch room and everyone stopped eating. She went up to a Hispanic food worker who was impressed; he couldn’t believe she worked there.
She was assigned to cover the riots in the early 80s because she knew the community. As she walked around, she ran into a man in a pool hall whose business was suffering as a result of the riots.
“My name is Iceberg Slim and I got hookers on the street,” he told her–and there was her first story–and it ran on the front page.
But her overall role was more difficult: “I had to change the way people saw us and the way people depicted Liberty City.”
“They did what they had to do,” Brad Brown said of the journalists on the panel and their contemporaries. “They changed things.”
The NAACP in South Florida used to dissect stories in The Herald and gave TV stations lists of black doctors to have a variety of experts.
“It’s not just the truth, but the broader truth” that’s important.
NOTE: I stopped liveblogging to take some photos toward the end and unfortunately missed some great comments by The Herald’s Andrea Robinson. I will be sure to go back and add them to this post or include them in a video package.