Student takes on old thinking at journalism school

Alana TaylorA student at New York University provides a glimpse of the challenges facing media courses in a piece for PBS Mediashift.

Alana Taylor, a junior double-majoring in journalism and history, makes a harsh assessment of the undergraduate journalism classes at the university.

His disappointment is palpable as she writes that NYU focuses on learning about how to work your way up the traditional journalism ladder

I was hoping that NYU would offer more classes where I could understand the importance of digital media, what it means, how to adapt to the new way of reporting, and learn from a professor who understands not only where the Internet is, but where it’s going.

One issue that emerges in Taylor’s piece is the issue of a faculty that has not kept up with developments in media.  This is a challenge facing most j-schools.

In Taylor’s case, she is taking a class called “Reporting Gen Y (a.k.a. Quarterlifers)”. She acknowledges that the professor is very talented and has written two books which include extensive research on generational issues.

But her beef is that the course is about the traditional approach to the course, for example, requiring students to bring a hard copy of the New York Times into class every week:

I take a deep sigh. Every single journalism class at NYU has required me to bring the bulky newspaper. I don’t understand why they don’t let us access the online version, get our current events news from other outlets, or even use our NYTimes app on the iPhone. Bringing the New York Times pains me because I refuse to believe that it’s the only source for credible news or Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism and it’s a big waste of trees.

I have to agree with Taylor. I read the NYTimes on my iPod Touch. Professors should acknowledge that people are accessing news and information in different ways, and bring that discussion into the classroom.

Educators need to find a balance between old and new that takes into account evolving social and cultural norms in the media.

Unfortunately for Taylor, her course is an “old-but-new-but-still-old” media class.

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  • The NY Times is the most prestigious and important newspaper in America, so they should look at it. Online or in print doesn’t really matter, I guess, but you still need to have a general idea of how to lay out a paper. Some people will still read in print because reading in print is actually a lot better; you don’t have to burn your eyes from the screen, and you can bring it anywhere.

  • Thanks for the comment Mitchell. Some people may prefer paper, but students should have a choice. And devices like the Kindle and iPod Touch make it easy to take the NYTimes and other newspapers with you anywhere.

  • The way information is published and made available to end users is shifting dramatically from a sort of monologue (from the “big media” to a largely “mute audience”) to a wonderfully diverse and rich multidirectional online scheme.

    By allowing such proximity between the publisher (or journalist, or blogger) and the “active readers / commenters”, gathering news becomes a much more fulfilling experience, for everyone.

    No wonder the younger generations of journalists seek to master this new and amazing trend that, hopefully, will stick around for a -very- long time!

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