Is the journalism degree becoming obsolete?

With all the changes that have rocked the journalism world in the past few years, some wonder whether journalism undergraduate and graduate programs are keeping pace.

IJNet recently talked to Magda Abu-Fadil, a foreign correspondent and director of the Journalism Training Program at the American University of Beirut, who has her doubts about whether traditional journalism school is still necessary. You can read her full interview here.

Can you really pick up what you learn in a year of J-school in a month on the job? If you have a journalism degree, what are you doing to stay current?

Specialization is the buzz word

with internet penetration and the abundance of information available online and an equal number of platforms to present your talent and express your views its important to channelize a persson in the right direction and learn the nitty grities of writing and reporting.this is where i think a degree in journalism will help you stand out in the eyes of the emloyer.

journalist degree and journalist

i believe study is important, special about journalist, but its not sure with degree of journalist person perfect journalist, its depend its choice and mind and people where he learn that important

Journalism degrees sans qualified educators: Context India

There's no problem with journalism- its course and structure or degrees. In India, there exists a tremendous ambiguity on what constitutes a formal degree in journalism- whether it is the ‘pure theoretical analysis’ or ‘completely hands-on skills training’ or a 'blend of both'- The crux of the problem lies with those who are engaged in journalism education. A vast majority of these 'so- called journalism educators' have never stepped in to any media organisation... but they're professing journalism education with due pride and honour. What level of expertise can you expect from such educators without any professional experience? Even the apex regulatory body- UGC seems confused on selection criteria they had set for Mass Communication Educators. To them you must have passed the great Indian National Eligibility Test (objective type) for Assistant Professor's post in Mass Communication. In order to get a berth to the post of Associate Professor one must score an API of 300 points (No professional experience or news articles published counted. One has to author books/ publish papers in journals with ISBN and ISSN numbers). That's all. So, the end product is there for all to see. A very few are fortunate enough to get a berth in media world. Most end up as ‘strugglers’ polishing their resumes every now and then. So, journalism degrees are not getting obsolete.... it's the policy makers who are thrashing the education to eternity.................

Degree in Journalism is essential!

As a journalist (PhD in Communication Sciences), I think a degree in journalism is essential to truly realize this profession. A person may be very good at writing but without a degree cannot even distinguish between the several journalistic styles, namely the difference between a lead and an opening. Not even know interview techniques or the difference between an editorial and an opinion piece. Most journalists without a degree have a serious knowledge deficit in several areas (ex: editorial techniques). There is also a total disregard for the Code of Ethics of Journalists by those who did not graduate. Therefore, a degree in journalism is essential to making quality journalism. It is precisely because there are many people without college education in Journalism, working as pseudo-journalists, that this profession is completely trivialized and discredited. Such statements are inadmissible in the XXI century. Specialization is essential in all areas of knowledge. Indeed, this is already one key premise of the United Nations. Otherwise, it would be sufficient to have merely curious people in all professional areas.

Journalism degree is tool and other is content

I agree for journalism degree. It's useful for Journalistic check up. If we have nothing to write then the degree is not useful. In journalism, linguistic check up is also important. For of all major point what's you write and how much you have information. Rakeshprasad Chaudahry Nepal

Academic Knowledge is important

Academic knowledge is important for journalism,Not saying have a "Degree" just in Journalism studies, but any kind of academic knowledge in any field of studies related to journalism like: communication, broadcasting, film & television, political science and or any social science degree, may being helpful to continue in the field of journalism. it's important to learn basic knowledge of laws, ethic and styles of journalism for contributing in more professional way in the future. I can undoubtedly say that with today's education system in the Primary and secondary schools,many of the students struggling with the ways of research methodology and this weakness of people to research an study, by the first start of their professional career in such a important jobs like Journalism, reporting, photography, or even business and Market study, will bring them to very low level of productivity or worst of all doing plagiarism (without any knowledge of they plagiarize in their job) I am not too traditional to say some new wave of journalism like "Citizen Journalism" is wrong, but I say even as Citizen Journalists people have to be educated about ethnic an the style of this field. It's not even too hard to educate people for being more professional in citizen journalism, if as a company who accepts materials from people like CNN ireport, The Guardian, or etc.. they can put some educative policies that persuade people to do more professional way of reporting and sending their materials.

I say, I don't see a bright side for journalism, if the news agencies and news companies do not try to keep their level of professional career with highly educated journalists and just focus on the materials of amateur style of citizen journalism.


How can you comment on journalism when you can't even write? Your paragraph-length sentence made no sense.


Just what I was looking for, this was really helpful. Thanks very much!

Degrees Are Obsolete

Nonsense. Journalism degrees are no more obsolete than any other type of degree. I laugh when I hear individuals say "I studied political science or history or economics and therefore I'm more qualified than a journalism major." Hilarious. A stale history degree or a stale economics degree is no more valuable than a stale journalism degree.

As long as they don't get too expensive, certifications that have to be renewed every three years or so are better educational models. In addition, they often can be earned while an individual works and they ensure ongoing, up-to-date training. I think ANSI/ISO/IEC accreditation will be increasingly important.

I'll make a bold prediction: If community colleges can keep the 2-year associate's degree relatively affordable, then the 2-year associate's degree and high-quality community colleges will continue to be relevant in the lives of ordinary people. Public libraries and community colleges need to merge and include videoconferencing hubs where groups can share documents and see/hear each other no matter where they are located. This also will require a major, national American broadband initiative to link all public libraries and community colleges with fiber optic and facilities will need to comply with ANSI S12.60. Then we'll have real education and opportunity for all at reasonable cost.

Journalism degree was never a requirement

I think to say journalism degree has become "obsolete" or not is not the right question. The reason to say this is a degree in journalism had never been a pre-requisite for a job or a guarantee of producing an extraordinary journalist. In fact, one can find more extraordinary journalists without a journalism degree than those who have it. It is all about passion, will and, above all, training. Time, experience and training are those ingredients that make a good journalist not a journalism degree. You get theory in classrooms but you can get the feel of it in newsrooms.

advantage of a journalism degree

Holding a degree in science/economy/history/literature or whatever would limit yourself to the area you have studied. In turn, if you hold a journalism degree you can write about many topics because you have learned how to sniff a story in something and to write in a way that will be read with interest. As a journalist, you don't need to be specialized in any area, what you need is to know as much as to make good story out of something and present the story from many angles and offer different viewpoints. It must be written in a way even non-experts can understand it. Exception is specialty area journalism targeting a very small group of people in which most journalists have no interest. I get often asked how I managed to become successful in a very short time. Because a combination of talent, curiosity, communication skills and journalism study has enabled me to see things and trends that many others are not able to detect quickly !

I have two. Skip it alright!

I will have to agree with the previous comment. Journalism degrees are essentially like all professional degrees; meant to cater to the media industry. Not only does it build the pressure on media by churning out more qualified journalists that it may have vacancies for, but also makes media like every other industry; full of people competing for jobs that only few have an aptitude or passion for.

Thankfully, while I did have journalism in my undergrad, I also had heavy concentration on International relations and Political Sciences and a whole coterie of subjects and languages alongside. Which rendered depth. The industry outside evolves faster than J-schools and their infrastructure which continue to exist within academia and the consequent pressures of funding, managements etc.

The tricks and trades of Journalism can easily be learnt on the job. But what helps one move along is to have substance, backed by a strong degree in any non-vocational subject.

I teach on a journalism

I teach on a journalism degree - teach digital journalism skills, as it happens. I am constantly struggling to convince tutors with outmoded skills and the organisations that govern their content (NCTJ, Periodical's Council etc) that these types of awards need to equip students for the emerging digital reality. It's a real fight - and it's a fight because these people are seeking to hold onto jobs and have no desire (or ability) to update. Many of them are teaching from the perspective of careers that effectively ended years ago. Many have never worked as journalists at all.

Personally, I would counsel that any student truly interested in journalism as a career path takes a degree course that will equip them with transferable skills. Take English or History or Politics or Geography.

What's the point in having a journalism degree?

One of the most important features in a good journalist is good knowledge on the topic(s) that they write about, not about the ins and outs of journalism which can be learnt on the job. What is the value of spending all your time working on a journalism degree (especially in undergrad level) rather than gaining a good knowledge of history, international relations even fashion or travel. I would love to become a journalist, but rather than gaining a degree in journalism I'd rather gain a degree in Politics and IR, because first and foremost that is the area of journalism I'd like to get into, but also because it opens up many more possibilities than a vocational degree does. What I believe to be most important in a good journalist is not his/her degree, but a good skill in language and communication. After all, most universities have published student newspapers which put us through our own courses and have experienced lecturers giving us hints and tips on how to write our best and that experience can be much more valuable than a degree.

I like your comment

I concord with you said. The idea of having a degree in journalism is even more than obsolete thanks to concept of conventional journalism.


i think we do not need to have a degree in journalism... if you believe that a degree is driving life then you may say our lives are depending on papers work rather than skills. I Africa for example and Asia in particular, most of the best performing journalists are non degree holders (diplomas). This is because graduate are always looking into employment instead of being freelancers to assess their productivity. Degree holders should not be the job seekers.

Hassan, Magadascar

It should be relevant

Not everyone can be a journalist. It takes practice, but what's more important- education. It is relevant, and it should be. This degree gives you an obligation to the people and to your readers, an obligation to tell the truth, to be honest, fair and self governing. It's a way to distinguish the wheat from the chaff.

Masters or post grad journalism is a good idea

Agree with the above. However at our small business PR agency; one of the directors completed a one year journalism course and 90% all of its graduates are now journalists, lots of them in prominent positions. None studied journalism as undergraduates.

journalism degree useless

I think having a journalism degree is not important at all. Most of what I learned as a journalist I did in the field and newsroom other than the classroom. What is necessary is a basic degree from whatever field one is very interested in than wasting three or more years in a college studying journalism

Degree can get you in the door

Having worked with new journalists in a few countries and from various institutions, I would agree that many J schools are a little out of touch. However quite often the degree is what gets you an interview or the job in the first place. So there clearly is a benefit. I recommend that anyone interested in becoming a journalist speak with editors etc and find out what are the J schools they recommend. As far as technology is concerned - with the proliferation of apps and the massively diverse range of output areas its hard to see any news org keeping up let alone a J school. I think the J schools really just have to teach students the basics fo journalism, which I believe are as relevant as ever, and encourage them to be creative and play with technology.

journalism degree still very important

Still very important to have journalism training. Other degrees only help journalists understand a particular subject areas in-depth. Economists, Scientists etc, are not communication specialists and usually end up showering their audiences with jargon and are usually as a result bad communicators; they cant tell the story to a simple man in the street. Perhaps and has been the case with my journalism schools, the course is always undergoing changes to meet new demands arising as society changes, as technology advances etc. so the journalism degree is even needed more in the face of a fast technologically advancing world.

agree -- we need journalism 2.0

and the degree programs are still mostly analog...

I have one, skip it

Journalism degrees become obsolete too quickly. Better to have a good humanities/politics/economy/history/science degree plus languages and computer skills.

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