Journalism school: waste of time or head start?
The question posed in the headline of the Oct. 26 article "Journalism students ask: Why am I here?" is really a comment on the content of the discipline at both the graduate and undergraduate level. I would expect such a question from a student enrolled in one of the theory-steeped programs. After getting my master's in journalism at Columbia University, I periodically considered going on to the PhD program, but I always asked myself a different question after investigating the possibilities: "What do these programs have to do with journalism?"
Students in professional graduate programs (like Columbia's) and in professional undergraduate programs (like Loyola's) don't dwell on such questions because every course they take drives the answer home. Such programs use the methods of experiential learning - an inductive approach to learning that hides theory from the learner until they have mastered the techniques of the discipline.
The one thing that employers can count on when they hire students molded by the rigorous curricula of professional programs is that these students have a passion for the field.
Prof. Andrew Ciofalo
The Oct. 26 article on journalism education was informative and well-written, but it didn't mention the finding from the University of Georgia annual surveys that graduates of journalism master's programs who look for work are more likely to find full-time jobs within six months than are graduates of journalism bachelor's programs who look for work (75.4 percent vs. 65.6 percent in 2003).
The article also didn't mention that, since 1989, graduates of journalism master's programs have consistently earned somewhat higher starting average salaries than graduates of journalism bachelor's degree programs (median starting salaries of $32,800 vs. $26,000 in 2003). These findings suggest some tangible immediate benefits from a journalism graduate degree, but they don't measure the longer term ones, which are likely to be greater.
Prof. David Weaver
Roy W. Howard Professor of Journalism
As a metro columnist for the Houston Chronicle who graduated 35 years ago with no courses in journalism, I may be biased, but I would like to point to Betty Medsger's research on journalists' academic backgrounds.
Ms. Medsger, a former Washington Post writer and professor, has studied the backgrounds of Pulitzer Prize winners, Nieman Fellows, and other high achievers and has found that more than half had no academic journalism training. She prefaces her findings by saying, "Consider this possibility: Journalism education gets in the way - in the way of creating good journalism and in the way of getting a good education."
The Oct. 25 article "Emerging Bias: 'Your Family or Your Career' ": helpfully outlines what can happen when a worker's caregiving obligations collide with his or her career. The way to find a true work-life balance, however, involves much more than just the legal options discussed in your article. It also requires a major shift in cultural attitudes - in particular the shedding of rigid and outdated notions of "the ideal employee."
More employers should embrace and support - not shortchange or merely tolerate - the need for workers to stay on top of their family priorities.
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