Thursday, April 24, 2008

I don't want people like that teaching my kids

Last week I wrote a post about where "print" journalists could, and could not, find new work.
Today I want to talk about where I'm hoping print journalists don't find work -- academia.

According to an article in Editor & Publisher, the B2B publication for the newspaper business, a growing number of print journalists, upset by the changes in the industry, are looking for the exits. That's no surprise. But what's disturbing to me is that many of these print journalists are apparently looking for jobs as journalism teachers.
I can't imagine a worse development for journalism.

First, it would be inappropriate for me not to disclose my bias here. I'd love to teach journalism. And perhaps, someday, I will. And it's certainly not in my interest for thousands of laid-off print folks to be competing with me for teaching gigs.
But more importantly, it's not in the interest of journalism students for schools to hire people who either can't or won't adjust to the changes in media. Heck, journalism schools are already filled with people who don't understand modern journalism. And there's little doubt that those teachers have been producing graduates who are ill-prepared for the workforce.

There's little to nothing I can do about this.
I'm fairly well connected to a number of journalism schools, as longtime readers of this blog know. But those schools are the ones that "get it." I'm not afraid that they will hire print dinosaurs. They won't. They know better. But I am worried sick that the schools that don't understand how much journalism has changed in recent years will hire people who have spent the past few years resisting change.

For my recent four-part series on college journalism, start here and follow the links.

tags: , , , , , , , journalism education


  1. Paul,

    Wait until they get a gander at what adjunct instructor salaries are. You might not have to worry so much. I'm a magazine editor who teaches one course during a semester as an adjunct in a major university school of communications, and I freely tell anyone that by the time I add up class prep, in-class teaching time, marking assignments for this writing intensive course (every weekend), and volumes of emails with students in between classes, I'm probably paying the university to teach this course. Unless they leave journalism with plenty of stashed cash, the road to academia is not where a lucrative next career will be found. They'll be fortunate to earn minimum wage when all is added up.

  2. I can only speak from a student's perspective. I've been through four years at one j-school and two years at another. But I feel cheated of my time and money for the first four years because I was not taught enough of the skills needed in today's job market. I got those only during my second j-school stint. The traditional training was, of course, necessary, but there's only so much about ethics and journalism law that you need before you're aching for some of the tools to become employed in today's multimedia journalism.

  3. With all the new awards for online journalism, couldn't some of these wallahs find employment on the selection committees?

    Surely they couldn't cause any harm there?

    Could they?

    pip pip

  4. I'm even more afraid as a high school journalism teacher. I've seen a lot of "former journalists" come out of college with no idea how to teach and only 2-3 years in journalism try to run a high school program. Too many of them were failures in journalism, switched to PR or corporate writing, failed again and then ended up as j-teachers. We need highly motivated, skilled and excited people teaching journalism/media today. It is a demanding job - I teach video, writing, photography, design and web skills every day. You have to be able to move in and out of every aspect of our business with a level of comfort that I doubt most of these new comers have. And most look at web publishing with disdain. But the kids get it! They will read online, but put ink on dead trees - their eyes glaze over.