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School and Education

Colorado University Close to Dumping Journalism School for an Information College

As the world of journalism changes, shouldn’t the way journalists learn the trade change as well? That’s what Colorado University claims as it considers shutting down its School of Journalism and Mass Communication and installing a school of information.

Of course, the changes have something to do with the economic environment as well, but Colorado officials have begun to review the school’s “discontinuance” policy and started an exploratory committeejournalismschoolco.jpg investigating a possible implementation of a school that focuses on information, communication and technology, according to the Daily Camera.

Currently Colorado’s journalism school has 647 undergraduates, 58 master’s students and 26 doctoral students, which will all be allowed to graduate under the old program. A possible new school focused on information could open as early as 2012.

The journalism school is also accepting of this change. “The faculty is ready to embrace this,” said the dean of the journalism school Paul Voakes to the Daily Camera.

More and more of these information schools have begun to pop up across the country from the University of Cal-Berkeley to Rutgers.

“News and communications transmission as well as the role of the press and journalism in a democratic society are changing at a tremendous pace,” said Chancellor Phil DiStefano in a press release. “We must change with it.”

Personally, the change seems logical to me. But since everything these days is about content, can we call the program the School of Content? It seems more appropriate and to the point.

Head Back to School at Mediabistro this Fall and Get a Free Course

We don’t normally post about comings-and-goings of our parent site mediabistro, but a new offer is out there for those wanting to better themselves. And lets face it, with school getting geared up for the fall, why shouldn’t we all consider going back to classroom to learn something new?
Anyone who signs up for a fall multi-week course by August 27 at mediabistro will receive a free self-paced course, which normally runs for $179. Not bad, right?

So if you sign up for the Resume and Cover Letter Writing course, which is a two-week class for $250, you would also get a chance to choose among six self-paced courses. These self-paced courses range from lessons on career change to new media, and will allow you to learn without that pesky teacher getting in your way.

For more information, check out the promotion page here.

Berkeley J-School Considering $5k Fee Add-On

U.C. Berkeley is considering adding a $5,000 annual fee for incoming graduate students, according to an internal memo from Dean Neil Henry obtained by Romenesko.

The memo reads, in part:

Like other campus units, the J-School has been forced to cut deeply into its permanent budget. Last year, the campus imposed a $150,000 permanent cut. We don’t know what the future holds, but we are certain that cut will not be restored any time soon and other cuts may face us when the Legislature passes a new budget.

We also have increased our private fund raising, attracting three new endowed chairs totaling $6 million, more than $2 million in new foundation grants, and hundreds of thousands of dollars from private donors to support our mission. Endowments in their early years, however, do not yield enough revenue to cover cuts elsewhere and grants are temporary.

We still must find steadier sources of revenue to meet expenses and maintain our basic operations.

The school costs $13,253 yearly for in-state students, and $28,559 for out of state students. With the fee, costs would be $18,253 and $33,559 respectively.

The dean also noted that the school has witnessed a 60 percent rise in applications from 2009 to 2010. The new fee will undoubtedly discourage some applicants, but about 1/3 of the money collected would go right back to scholarships, the dean said.

Learn To Be A Travel Writer…In The Himalayas

mountain in the himalayas

TV personality and travel journalist Robin Esrock wants to teach you how to be a travel writer.
Well, immersion’s the best solution, right? So that’s why you can join him (read: pay a rather large amount of money) to trek through the Himalayas for a view (from afar) of Mt. Everest while picking his brain on how to write and pitch stories and learning how he landed his National Geographic show.

And, because every company on the planet likes these free-publicity-for-a-”job” gigs, the fifteen people on this three-week trip will be blogging about the trip, and the best blogger wins a trip to Peru.

Still, if you’ve got $3,890 and a plane ticket to LA (where the expedition leaves from), there are worse ways to learn about travel writing. Ask your accountant if it’s tax-deductible.

Second thought: what a brilliant money-making side business for a writer. Anyone ever given thought to doing something like this? “Plein aire” writing workshops, anyone?

photo: A.Ostrovsky

Texas J-School Practices What It Preaches

Millennials may spend their lives connected via Facebook, Twitter, and SMS, but that doesn’t mean they automatically know how to produce multimedia journalism.

In fact, most student media organizations still work out of separate offices, with the student paper, radio station, and TV staffs rarely working together.

That’s part of the reason why Texas Christian University’s Schieffer School of Journalism opened a $5.6 million “Convergence Center” last year, writes Aaron Chimbel at the Online Journalism Review. Now the newspaper, magazine, and TV station are in the same building, bouncing ideas off each other.

“Because News Now [the station] and Skiff [the newspaper] staffers were working in the same newsroom, we were much more aware of what the other one was doing than we were before,” Julieta Chiquillo, the Skiff’s managing editor in fall 2009 and editor-in-chief the following semester, told Chimbel. “Even then, we had to establish a system to better communicate.” And there’s a feeling of “competition” because of course the paper still wants to scoop the station and vice versa.

But they’re learning. It helps that the school’s done away with separate degrees in broadcast or print journalism and now just offers one program. A reporter last year did a Web video and text story which eventually became also a print piece in the paper and a segment on News Now.

The danger, of course, is the same danger at any organization that’s using pools–you have one reporter now expected to notice everything, rather than many reporters all pursuing different angles of the same story.

But let those who’ve graduated figure that out. For now, it sounds like the students are learning actual 21st-century skills from a university. Shocking.

J-Students Totally Unprepared For Journalism

If two anecdotes make a trend, then woe to the current crop of J-students.

Two journalism professors at Howard University in Washington DC are disappointed in the students in their spring 2010 classes: Jack White wrote on his blog that he failed half his class. (The blog’s since been deleted, but parts of it are selectively quoted here in Richard Prince‘s column.)

“The students who flunked were, to use a word the old folks favored, truly triflin’. They did not turn in work on time even though making deadlines is essential for a journalist. They missed classes. They did not keep up with current events. Their lack of mastery of the basics of English composition—spelling and grammar—was appalling. Their carelessness was breathtaking,” White wrote.

At the same time, Dwight Cunningham wrote that he flunked 40% of his class. The 60% that passed “at least demonstrated some effort.” Not high praise, exactly.

“They don’t know that mid-year elections come every two years, that 33 (or 34) U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs, that “ensure” means something totally different than “insure” — and they don’t care about their collective ignorance.

“They just want a passing grade, to get them to some unknown next level of stupid oblivion,” he wrote.

To be sure, this problem is not limited to journalism students or students at Howard. There are students everywhere who shouldn’t be in college and are just doing it because they were told it’s what they were supposed to do.

Until America figures that out, however, it puts the J-students who do give a damn at a huge advantage.

Columbia’s New Dual Master’s Program Will ‘Bridge The Media/Tech Divide’


We have discussed on this blog the difficulties media companies have when they want to hire a journalist/coder: do you hire a techie and teach her journalism or do you hire a journalist and teach him to code?

Soon, news orgs won’t have to choose. Columbia University is going to start offering a dual-master’s program in journalism and computer science, starting in 2011.

The five-semester program will admit just 15 students who will be taught not just to use current tech but to create new programs they can use for doing journalism.

They’ll learn how to automate routine tasks, create data visualizations, identify underreported stories, and more.
Wired broke the story yesterday and commented that “the concept makes sense, the problem it addresses is real, and Columbia is capable of taking on the challenge.” Here’s hoping they can fit more than 15 students per semester in this program.

photo: naus3a01

‘I See Things on Other Publication’s Web Sites That I Have No Idea How To Do’

Earlier this year ASPBE released preliminary results of a survey examining the digital divide at B2B publications: namely, these publications’ editors are largely left to their own devices when it comes to getting digital training, and at some pubs, it shows.

ASBPE has now released the full survey, available here (PDF), and it includes (anonymous) comments from some of these editors.

Some people have the “It’s not my problem” attitude: “At our publications, the editors (me and others) merely provide materials; others do the actual converting to digital formats,” said one survey respondent. Another: “I edit content, regardless of where the content is used, and thus do not focus on digital issues.” (But digital isn’t just about “converting” to a “format”–it’s a way of thinking.)

Others seem like they’re doing okay, actually: “I have the skills I need to do everything required of me for our print and online products. As they evolve, so will my skills.” And here’s a plug for Medill: “A Medill education (even one that is 8 years past graduation) prepared me to be thinking digitally all the time.” “We started early and invested in digital upgrades.”

Yet other editors sound a bit helpless. “Hard to keep up with every wave of new stuff like Twitter,” said one respondent. “I feel un-trained and flying by the seat of my pants,” said another, who added, “But then, my publication’s management is way worse than me.”

Then there’s the hapless guy (or gal) we quoted in the title: “I know nothing about Twitter, tweet, videos, etc. I see things on other publication’s [sic] Web sites that I have no idea how to do.”

Our heart goes out to this person. And the person who said “I’m continually identifying digital ideas and best practices that cannot get implemented due to manpower or resource issues.” And the person who said “We’re too lean to try anything different.”

Sadly, this story is not unique to business-to-business publications. Everywhere there are publications throwing untrained people into jobs because “we have to do digital.” Which is probably true, but setting someone up to fail because they don’t know what they’re doing isn’t fair either.

On the bright side, when asked to rank priorities for the coming months, “downsizing editorial staff” ranked lowest out of 16.

Nobody’s Getting Digital Training As Budgets Slide

Editors of business-to-business magazines have been “left largely to their own devices” to learn the digital skills they need to run their publications, the American Society of Business Publication Editors reports.

Out of 273 editors surveyed—of which 88 percent were senior-level editors—four out of five participated in one day or fewer of digital media training last year.

Two thirds of the editors ranked training as inadequate for a variety of digital skills, and twenty-seven percent admitted that the online components of their magazines had surpassed the editors’ personal knowledge. In fact, one in three have never blogged and one in five never worked with any form of social media.

The associate director of ASBPE, Robin Sherman, is appropriately appalled: “The lack of company-sponsored training, let alone adequate training, is a major concern. Apparently, what skills most senior-level editors do have were learned and paid for on their own…Why would organizations place editors and publications at risk as a result of so little training?”

But we’re not surprised. Budgets are tight, and training is usually one of the first things to go. But on the other hand, offering training can be a relatively cheap way to retain key employees, so let’s bring training back into the workplace, please?

By the way, not to toot our own horn so much, but offers so many digital courses…
Blogging and Social Media Essentials, Advanced Blogging, Flash for Journalists, and more…

NYC Media Folks: FREE TRAINING From The Levin Institute

Computer and coffeeAre you a resident of one of the five boroughs? State University of New York’s Levin Institute is now accepting applications for JumpStart New Media, a three-month program that teaches media pros how to rework their skills in the new media environment.

The free program includes one week of “in-class” work (presentations, projects, discussion) and about three months working in a new media firm as an (unpaid) consultant.

The Levin Institute, which is running these programs with the help of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, has run one similar program with laid-off financial pros; after the culmination of that program, about half of the participants landed jobs. Mike DiGiacomo of Levin told us that the networking participants got—both with other participants and with their “host companies”—was a huge benefit to all.

To get one of the 50 or so slots, you’ll need to apply online: you’ll need two references, a resume, and the answers to a couple short essay questions. The program begins Feb. 1, 2010; you can also attend an informational session on Jan. 6, 2010.