- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
HARPER: Journalism education
As I ponder retirement, I wonder who’s going to educate the next generation, particularly as journalism professors and communications scholars, including me, arrived last week in Washington, D.C., for the annual get-together of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.
Journalists face a number of important issues, but the plummeting lack of credibility with the public stands as No. 1 for me. Without trust, journalists don’t have much of a role to play.
In a recent book, “Millennials, News, and Social Media: Is News Engagement a Thing of the Past?,” AEJMC President Paula Poindexter, who teaches at the University of Texas at Austin, outlined the disconnect between the media and their audience. She underscored how young people gave the media poor grades and didn’t think being informed about the news was important.
“Improving millennial attitudes toward news is a complicated, long-term proposition that requires leadership and commitment from everyone,” she wrote to me in an email.
I think her proposals focused on a laudable goal: media literacy. But I don’t think it went far enough to address my concerns in training the next generation.
Only two AEJMC presidents in the past 10 years have had any significant experience in journalism. Moreover, many of the estimated 500 journalism programs exist in schools of communication alongside advertising, media studies, public relations and other fields not associated with reporting.
Nearly all the tenure-track jobs in journalism programs require a doctorate. That usually means successful job hunters must focus their time on writing for rather obscure academic journals.
Some places like Arizona State, Columbia, Syracuse and Temple, where I teach, emphasize a mixture of professors with a doctorate and those who hold a doctorate in worn shoe leather. I hold the latter.
Many journalism programs failed to adapt to changes in the media and have only started to launch entrepreneurial and multimedia courses in the past few years. That’s because many people studied the trends and failed to adapt to them in practical terms.
Some curricular problems exist. Journalism students must take roughly two-thirds of their classes in the arts and sciences, where they often must listen to leftist hokum.
My preference for journalism would be more stress on accuracy than objectivity, fairness and balance — buzzwords that mean far different things to different people.
Objectivity, for example, leads to the false equivalence of news organizations calling known terrorist groups as militants or insurgents and other travesties of alleged neutrality.
Fairness and balance often create debates that become shouting matches of extreme points of view rather than the subtleties in between. I would like to see more explanatory and interpretative journalism that doesn’t fall in the trap of being pedantic or pedestrian. I would like to see more education for journalists about how to run a successful business. I would like to keep politics out of the classroom. I get tired of educators trashing conservative media and so do some students.
About the Author
Christopher Harper is a professor of journalism at Temple University. He worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and “20/20” for more than 20 years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
Get Breaking Alerts
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Vietnam says it may have found door of missing Malaysian jet as intel look into stolen passports
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
- FIELDS: Oscars' fantasy on the Left Coast
Recent Letters to the Editor
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Time for feckless president to show resolve
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Obama reserves 'Chicago way' for GOP
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Public education would wither in free market
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Turkey not committed to Cyprus peace
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Spoiled-kid culture creates greedy adults