Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation,
four journalism schools and a journalism-related institute at Harvard
have put together what the Chronicle of Higher Education calls a "broad
overhaul journalism education."
The Knight announcement today has links to coverage from The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and Editor & Publisher,
as well as a downloadable PDF file of a McKinsey & Co. report
commissioned by Carnegie to get the ball rolling. Carnegie's site also
has links to all of the schools involved, a Manifesto, a FAQ file and much more.
The $6 million, three-year project involves the journalism schools at Columbia University, Northwestern University,
the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of
Southern California, plus the Joan Shorenstein Center
on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's John
F. Kennedy School of Government.
If your reaction is that it's no big deal to have two top foundations writing
checks to already-excellent universities, here's a chunk of the Carnegie FAQ
file (highlighting added):
Why undertake this initiative aimed at revitalizing journalism schools at this time? And why these schools?
A: It's all about democracy. Just as we need well-educated and
well-trained teachers for public schools; we need well-educated and
well-trained journalists to analyze, interpret and report for today's
media. This is particularly critical in a time of globalization when
context, culture and the complexity of issues facing our nation and the
world challenges the ability of all of us to make sense of modern
times. That's why we must look to journalism schools, which are
uniquely positioned to draw on the educational and intellectual
resources of the universities at which they reside, to prepare the news
leaders of the 21st century. We ignore these schools and their
curricula at democracy's peril.
This project encourages journalism schools to go beyond their current
boundaries - to be expansive about the kind of courses and information
their students should absorb. It attempts to raise the profile of
journalism education - and its place within the university - by helping
improve it at top schools that have support from the highest level - so
much so that their presidents have agreed to support the project's
We think all good journalism school deans would agree that journalism
education needs to get better and it needs to get the attention from
the profession and the university that it deserves. We have built into
this initiative the ability for these five schools to work with others,
and under the grant to Harvard, they are required to give research
grants to other universities.
OK... I'm all for a higher profile for journalism education, in hopes
of some "trickle down" impact at the University of Tennessee, where
I've been teaching in a journalism school for the past year. If a
"higher profile" brings journalism schools more private or state
funding for student projects, more
salaries for full-time teachers, better teaching labs and more
encouragement to experiment
with things like weblogs, "converging" media and computer-assisted
reporting, I'm all for it.
I've been saying for a long time that, with the Web empowering more
do "citizen journalism," journalism schools are a natural place
to teach them to do it well -- as well as preparing full-time
professionals to do it even better.
Maybe as part of this Carnegie-Knight Initiative, there will be some online forums and
blogs for participating teachers to talk about their
craft, as well as the craft of journalism... and about the challenges
of getting students interested in real news today. (That was the
subject of another recent study. See the cover of the most recent Carnegie Reporter: A picture of Jon Stewart and a headline that says "Abandoning the News; Is This the Most Trusted Anchorman in America?")
I'm especially intrigued by a part of this
Carnegie-Knight Initiative that recommends team-teaching, putting
subject-matter experts and journalism teachers together together to
improve courses in special-topic reporting. Says the FAQ file, "The
world, including the media world, has become far too complex for
journalism as usual."
Another encouraging part of the project is that the foundations got the
university presidents to buy in, guaranteeing funding for the third year. Back to the Carnegie FAQ:
presidents of the universities involved are committed to this
initiative, not only because of what it brings to their own campus, but
because they recognize the need nationally for revitalizing the
profession of journalism. The schools will serve as incubators of
reform for the nation and the profession.
While all that incubating is going on up north and out west, here in
Knoxville we have university committees searching for both a dean of
the College of Communication & Information and a director of the
School of Journalism & Electronic Media. ("JEM" is one of the four parts of
the college.) Having Information Science and journalism in the same
college, and having print and broadcasting in one school, are among the special things that attracted me here.
high-profile Carnegie-Knight project, even if it is far away, will help
interest (and funds) to help journalism schools like ours take
advantage of their own universities' special strengths, and I don't
mean football and basketball. For example, journalism students can
discover important work going on here in many fields -- business and logistics, computer science and
engineering, anthropology and forensics, and more.
Off-campus, I'd count as local strengths the lively online
communities of the Rocky Top Brigade and KORRnet,
and the fact that local journalists pay attention
to what's happening in those online communities.
For the record, here's the e-mail alert about the Chronicle article that got me started chasing down these links:
This article, "5 Universities Will Announce a Broad Plan to Overhaul Journalism Education," is available online at this address:
This article will be available to non-subscribers of The
Chronicle for up to five days after it is e-mailed.
The article is always available to Chronicle subscribers at this
updated 6 p.m., 5/26;
some editing 5/30