Thursday, September 02, 2010

Tear down this...program?

If you are involved in journalism/mass communication education, are a graduate of such a program, are currently in such a program, or simply care about the future of journalism, then this article is mandatory reading.

One of the most challenging questions any journalism/mass communication program must address (and the addressing must be constant; a once-every-ten-years approach will not work) is whether students are getting the best possible education they can...for right now. But the answer also must recognize whether those skill sets will serve them five or ten or more years down the line.

Yes, the idea that what is taking place at the University of Colorado offers a chance at a fresh start (perhaps) is encouraging, the more troubling issue that I see is how the program became as "dysfunctional" and "hopeless" as one critic has suggested it is.

I recall visiting Northwestern's nationally recognized Medill School of Journalism three years ago. There, the school's dean told four of my Point Park colleagues and me about the program's transformation, which had an expressed purpose of seeing that students who were graduating from the program were prepared to be communicators ten years or more down the line.

Impressive, yes. But there's also a danger -- what happens if technology, business strategies or some other linchpin moves in a direction no one predicted? Could such a shift undermine the "let's train them also for the future" approach?

Perhaps.

I find these kinds of issues inspiring, challenging, daunting and amazing. And I want to be part of the fantastic group of people currently in higher-education communication programs who are addressing them.

I hope you do, as well.

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