School’s in … if you believe in it

There’s an old running debate among journalists: Are we a profession or a craft? Generations of journalists before us either did not have a college degree or if they did, it was not from a J-school. That’s because colleges and universities didn’t start journalism programs until the 20th Century.

Some of the most gifted and hard-working journalists I have known do not have a degree. Yet, they are brilliant photographers and strong writers–curious, ethical practitioners of what they and I believe is still a valuable element of democracy.

Interestingly, it is not the non-degree holders who often stir up the debate about the value of a degree in journalism. Some who have that sheepskin exhibit a curmudgeonly, contrarian view about the value of a journalism education. That’s fine. I have reviewed my share of job applications from people with even name brand degrees and not a great deal of acumen in journalism.

I appreciate contrarians. But if you hold that view, then please don’t ask me about how to get into teaching. If you don’t believe in it–journalism and the teaching of it–you shouldn’t waste your time and the students’ time in a classroom. That’s the essence of this piece I wrote for the RTDNA Communicator.