Teaching Journalism: Growing away from traditional

Since I came to Colorado University, it seems that there is a large debate about what should and shouldn’t be taught to journalism students. More so, what should be changed about how we are being taught journalism. The industry is growing faster then what professors can adapt to, like Rick Stevens said, “your job may not even be created, yet.” So that leaves the question: what should we be educating journalism student in when the industry is changing faster than the information and tools being taught?

First, when people ask me why I became a journalist, I say, “because I wanted to know how to write.” For me, knowing how to write has to be the number one goal, because even with the fast pace of technology, if a student can’t write, he or she is out of luck. So traditional journalism comes into play and should be highly integrated into the lesson plan. Forget technology, apps, and what is the new way of being a journalist, we have to be able to write. Point blank, we have to be able to write and understand why we write the way we do.

Second, when people ask me what my plan for a job is, I say, “I am not sure, maybe write, maybe this or that, who knows.” It is that answer, which is so unsure that guides me through my academic career. Do I know what I am going to do? No. Do I know where I will be in 10 years? No. But, it’s an answer that allows me to be open to all possibilities. I think that the widest variety of tools should be taught, from technology to, for lack of a better thought, creating a stone wheel. What I mean by ‘creating a stone wheel’ is that even with all the technology, all the cool new ways of processing information and sourcing, a student must be able to know how to do the old school methods. If we don’t know how we got to this point, I think that when we figure out where we are going, we won’t have as good as a guide then what we would have from knowing the past.

I don’t believe that learning technology and the modern age tools are worth nothing, but those are tools that we, as young-minded individuals keen with technology, should be able to figure out ourselves. I don’t need someone four times my age telling me how to work Facebook, or Twitter. I need someone four times my age to show me their experiences and how the new tools can be used properly, or in a new way that they hadn’t been able to without the tool.

I guess I am on the side for being traditional, but at the same time I am not. I love technology and love when people know how to use it effectively. My major decision point comes from, yes, people may know all about coding and such, but when a person doesn’t know how to write – what’s the point? Why continue trying to innovate when you can’t even master the previous invention, or way of doing things. Now, I am not saying that people must follow traditional ways of journalism, but for me, it sure is helpful to know how things were done, so I can create how things ought to be done.


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  1. Good post. And in particular, you have some good thoughts and they are expressed well.

    Don’t be afraid to cite others who are having this conversation, even if only to establish the extreme ends of the spectrum. Also don’t be afraid to disclose your own experience in greater detail. (What IS you experience with Facebook, for example).

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