FCC Report: Journalism schools should adopt medical residency model

byNicole Martinelli
Jun 10, 2011 in Journalism Basics

Journalism may not be brain surgery, but a report by the Federal Communications Commission recommends that aspiring reporters go through residency programs just as doctors do.

This is just one of the suggestions to come out of the Future of Media report, a project launched in early 2010 in response to the findings of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.

The comprehensive, 475-page FCC report is hailed as the most comprehensive look at U.S. media policy in a generation. You can read or download the full report here. The Knight Commission report that inspired it is available here.

Divided into two main sections, which cover the current media landscape and the policy and regulatory landscape, the report calls for journalism schools to expand the way they “add meaningfully” to society at large by learning the trade as they provide community news:

"Innovators in the profession are calling for schools to adopt a 'medical residency' model, which is to say—have the students do journalism as they learn it. Given that in any year there are about 4,500 graduate students and 50,000 undergraduates earning journalism degrees, this has the potential to add meaningfully to the accountability journalism in many communities."

We recommend that foundations and philanthropists help fund journalism-school 'residencies' for recent graduates who can help manage year-round efforts to produce significant journalism for the community, using journalism school students. This simple step could enable journalism schools to significantly increase their impact in communities, while improving the quality of their instruction at the same time."

At a time when even some journalism trainers think traditional journalism degrees have limited usefulness and professionals debate the future of j-school, is a residency model an idea whose time has come?