Is Pursuing a Journalism Degree Still Relevant Today?

Is Pursuing a Journalism Degree Still Relevant Today?
  • Opening Intro -

    Higher education has changed over the decades as some fields of study that were once considered of prime importance no longer seem so relevant.

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For example, journalism — defined as “the collection and editing of news for presentation through the media,” by Merriam-Webster — is not what it once was as bloggers and advocacy journalists seem to do a better job of getting people’s attention than some major newspapers and broadcast outlets do.

Last week, The Poynter Institute announced the results of its 2013 survey, “The Future of Journalism Education,” to learn how educators, students, media professionals and independent journalists see the future of journalism education. The results show stark differences between the various groups surveyed, with many calling for major changes in journalism curriculum to keep up with the times.

Survey Says

Poynter, itself a recognized leader in journalism education, noted several significant findings in its survey of approximately 1,800 individuals including:

1. Journalism educators still believe that a journalism degree is still “very important to extremely important” when understanding the value of journalism with 96 percent of educators holding that belief. On the other hand, just 57 percent of media professionals believe the same.

2. Educators and media professionals were even further apart when its comes to the importance of having a journalism degree for learning news gathering skills. At least 80 percent of educators, but only 25 percent of media professionals agreed with that statement.

3. Changes in the field of journalism are not keeping up with the changes in the industry, with 48 percent of editors and staffers stating that this is so. Some 39 percent of educators say that journalism education is keeping up with changes a little or not at all.

4. Notably, media professionals are finding that the people that they hire are not bringing with them the skills necessary to do their jobs. Indeed, Poynter asked survey respondents to think back on the last person their company hired and only 26 percent said that the person had “most” or “all” of the skills necessary to be successful.

Written Responses and a Companion Survey

The survey also welcomed hundreds of written and very personal responses with many individuals underscoring the need for journalism curriculum to be overhauled, the educational bureaucracy reduced and students equipped with practical skills such as photo shooting and editing, and social media engagement before beginning their careers. Respondents also stressed that students should be imbued with professionalism and integrity from the onset of their careers especially in a digital world where verifying information distributed on the Internet can be very challenging.

A companion survey from Poynter is now available, one that is available through Survey Monkey. It is a seven-question survey, one that can add more depth to Poynter’s findings, and should take you less than five minutes to complete.

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Categories: Academics, Featured