Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Joe Weber: Is Journalism School Immoral?

BusinessWeek ex-chief of correndents Joe Weber raises a provocative question on his blog: is journalism school immoral?

Joe now teaches journalism at the University of Nebraska, says that

with jobs in media disappearing by the thousands, the arguments against J-School are taking on a new force. Some critics even say it's immoral that we teach students journalism when the field is shriveling. There will be no jobs for our grads, they say. A lawyer friend argues that J-School teachers ought to be sued for their perfidy (of course, as a lawyer he would say that).
Joe concludes by saying that "J-School is every bit as worthwhile as any other academic pursuit and more useful than many."

I agree. It's true that jobs in the old media are vanishing, but they've been replaced by jobs in the new media. The problem is that pay scales are much, much less.

That's a real scandal that nobody has covered: how journalism has become a poverty-row profession for beginners, sort of like actors and opera singers. My first job was at the Hartford Courant, and I was paid a decent if not lavish wage, and received full health benefits. Such jobs are becoming rare for new grads. Perhaps one required course in j-school should be "how to apply for food stamps."

What makes this bad is that journalism is going to have a harder time retaining people. That's bad for the profession and terrible for society as a whole.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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