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Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

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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Miranda Mulligan    
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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Bill Grueskin    
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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Brian Boyer    
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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Eric Newton    
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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Geneva Overholser    
The USC professor says journalism schools should become “lively centers of campus – and of community – life.”
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Leonard Downie Jr.    
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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Meredith Artley    
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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Mindy McAdams    
Journalism school students often choose the field because they like writing. So getting them to code requires more than instruction — it takes convincing.
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Jeff Jarvis    
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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Steve Buttry    
“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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Robert Hernandez    
USC’s Hernandez says students should bypass the normal route and “hijack your school’s assets to selfishly improve your skills.”
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John Wihbey    
Journalism schools need to take better advantage of the rest of their universities, teaching students to engage with scholarship.
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Dan Gillmor    
Engaging more with the rest of the university is one way j-schools can gain relevance.
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Cindy Royal    
“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.”
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Robert Steiner    
What if, instead of turning journalists into experts, you focused on turning experts into journalists?