Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Educated and Skill-Less


This year may go down one of the toughest ever to be a journalist. Newspaper buyouts and layoffs have cost roughly 13,500 newspaper jobs this year, after claiming 16,000 positions in 2008. More than 100 newspapers, from the Rocky Mountain News in Denver to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, have collapsed and disappeared this year. Some 525 magazines shut down last year.

The Old Media devastation has been unprecedented, even fueling a macabre genre of New Media, blogs such as “Newspaper Death Watch”, “Paper Cuts,” and “Magazine Death Pool,” the latter illustrated with a grim reaper who asks “Who Will Be Next?”
Sadly, the shutdowns and layoffs are only part of the story. Journalists everywhere are facing mandatory furloughs and salary cuts. Most newspapers, magazines and broadcast news organizations have frozen all hiring, too.

What have journalism schools done to adjust to the new realities of our business? Not much, I conclude in an essay that appears in the digital magazine Byline published by the New York Press Club.
Here's my take on what journalism educators need to do to train students for a very different time. My basic argument: J-schools need to develop a curriculum of courses to prepare not merely journalists but entrepreneurs who will launch their own media enterprises. What do you think?

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