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How journalism education needs to change

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CC-licensed by Flickr, thanks to Korean Resource Center.

When citizens can become journalists overnight with a newsworthy blog, the necessity of formal journalism education comes into question.

A new report by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the New America Foundation says it’s more crucial than ever, but a few changes need to occur.

The report, “Shaping 21st Century Journalism: Leveraging a 'Teaching Hospital Model' in Journalism Education,” suggests universities should not just teach journalists, but should produce meaningful journalism by embracing a community news mission. The report was released at the inaugural Journalism Interactive Conference, on journalism education and digital media, held October 28 and 29 at the University of Maryland.

Authors C.W. Anderson, Tom Glaisyer, Jason Smith and Marika Rothfeld write that universities should shadow the method of teaching hospitals that “don’t merely lecture medical students, but also treat patients and pursue research. Journalism programs should not limit themselves to teaching journalists, but should produce copy and become laboratories of innovation as well.”

A shift in funding must accompany the transition from solely educators to trusted news providers. Universities will need to lean on the federal government, community foundations, lawmakers and the media industry to sustain their goal.

There is a gap between journalism programs and their potential, but the report notes universities where the “teaching hospital method” is already taking place.

The report outlines sustainable funding recommendations. Here are a few:

  • The media industry should make a financial commitment to supporting innovative curriculum development.
  • Local community foundations should provide funds supporting community media outlets through journalism programs.
  • The federal government should create a special fund for journalism scholarships, support new partnerships between universities and public/private media and urge the Federal Communications Commission to consider experimental license applications for journalism schools to experiment with media distribution.
  • Lawmakers should call on expertise in journalism programs at hearings and for comments.

To download the full report, click here.

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