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Back to School: The Evolution of Journalism Education

It’s the start of the 2012-13 school year, which means students are returning to journalism programs around the country. As the media industry continues to evolve, how well is new talent being trained, and how well are schools preparing them for the real world? We asked an array of people — hiring editors, recent graduates, professors, technologists, deans — to evaluate the job j-schools are doing and to offer ideas for how they might improve.

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The executive director of Northwestern’s Knight News Innovation Lab says j-schools need to teach students to be open-minded about their skills — and that means learning at least the basics of programming.
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In the rush to build up training for digital skills, some journalism schools have asked students to go wide instead of deep, argues the dean of academic affairs of Columbia’s j-school.
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Boyer, the head of NPR’s news apps team, puts on his professor hat and offers a syllabus for “making useful things for people.”
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The Knight Foundation’s Newton says “universities must be willing to destroy and recreate themselves to be part of the future of news.”
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The USC professor says journalism schools should become “lively centers of campus – and of community – life.”
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Journalism students are best served when they actually produce serious, real-world work, the former Washington Post editor argues. But many journalism schools aren’t set up for that.
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The managing editor of CNN’s digital operations says coding and multimedia skills are becoming more common among new hires, but that specialized knowledge is getting hard to find.
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Journalism school students often choose the field because they like writing. So getting them to code requires more than instruction — it takes convincing. Mindy McAdams
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One-size-fits-all classes don’t work in an environment where students’ digital skills are so uneven. And journalism schools should be looking to serve the world beyond those who pay tuition.
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“The choice for student media is simple: Slide into irrelevancy even faster than professional media that fail to adapt, or race into the digital future and help show them the way.”
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USC’s Hernandez says students should bypass the normal route and “hijack your school’s assets to selfishly improve your skills.” Robert Hernandez
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Journalism schools need to take better advantage of the rest of their universities, teaching students to engage with scholarship.
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Engaging more with the rest of the university is one way j-schools can gain relevance.
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“We are just at the beginning of understanding what the digital media curriculum of the future will look like. But we can’t let the constraints of accreditation and untrained faculty slow us down.” Cindy Royal
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What if, instead of turning journalists into experts, you focused on turning experts into journalists?
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