Thursday, April 9, 2009

Journalism School Now??

I know people do crazy things in a recession, but taking out a student loan for a degree that won’t give an edge in a wheezing industry actually makes getting
an MBA look smart.


Forbes reported that enrollment at journalism schools is soaring. Huh? Media jobs are hard enough for undergrads to get, so why they hell are you going to pay $40,000+ a year, incurring millions of dollars in debt to become poor? And these kids aren't going to want to be working for a PR or marketing agency after a stint at J-school.

Forbes also lists that there will be a tiny increase for entry-level reporters and news anchors by 2016, and positions for experienced writers and editors will grow by 10%, which I find hard to believe, even if they are for trade publications, freelancers and digital media. Maybe it's just the cost-cutting going on now, or the fact that there's an excess of writers and editors without a large enough, supportable structure in place.

The Forbes piece, much to my disappointment, doesn't really go into the detail I'd have liked. I've read many times before that the only benefit to J-school is the connections, but nowadays I feel that's crap--follow enough people on Twitter, read enough blogs, put real effort into this kind of networking (and create your own stuff), and you too, can make it. Julia Allison is the master at it. I admire many New York writers--there's no reason I can't meet some of them someday, I reason; I don't live far, I'm familiar with their work, I just need to be at the right place at the right time.

I'm sure J-school does have a purpose, real training for real journalism, and the kinds of opportunities that aren't available for those cub reporters that can no longer be because every day a new publication bites the dust. They're an in.

This reminds me of a teleseminar I attended recently at work, where one of the editors of Good Housekeeping (or similar magazine) had a MA in journalism from a top-notch school. And you're working here?, I thought. What a waste. And then I felt bad--what if she couldn't get anything better? But writing fluff copy for midwestern moms pays a living.


John said...

What will they be teaching in Journalism school now, anyway? Will there be textbooks devoted to Blogging and Twitter?

By the way, that MBA article is more than a little disheartening, from multiple perspectives.

It's really a shame that there aren't more real-life journalists like my favorite comic book reporter, Spider Jerusalem. I only wish more people thought, "Journalism is like a gun. You've only got one bullet, but that's all you need, if you aim it right. Aim it right, and you can blow the kneecap off the world." If we had even ONE blog of that sort for every thousand devoted to celebrity gossip, the "blogosphere" might actually be something worthwhile.

MediaMaven said...

John, what kind of blog are you referring to? There ARE blogs out there that do reporting, but they are almost always an organization unto themselves--and even big ones like Gawker, which has the attitude you're talking about--still aggregate, dissect and analyze stories as much as they fact-check.

There are still plenty of people out there who have a similar mindset. They're working it grassroots, writing their own stuff, Twittering, creating videos...and may not be getting any money for it.

Yes, there are classes in new media (a blogger I follow who attends NYU is taking one of them now, and even she laughs about the absurdity of it sometimes), but I did some of that stuff back in school. I hope journalism school also goes into the business aspects of the field. It's not all about blogging and Twittering--there are still a lot of practical applications to approaching journalism, and to boil it down to how to use software is unfair.

Their was a quote in the MBA video that basically said that it's a degree meant to prove that you're educated, whether or not that is the case...that's pretty true of a lot of graduate degrees, no?

mikhailbakunin said...

I'm not sure about a journalism degree, but I think getting an MBA is a good idea. Wall Street is going to be very eager to attract young talent when the economy picks up again.

But even if you can't find a job in financial services, having an MBA - like having a law degree - opens a lot of doors.

mikhailbakunin said...

Also, I think you spelled "there" wrong. : )