What does the J-school of the Future look like?

In Podcast on December 2, 2009 by Dave Winer

Cody Brown, who was a guest on RBTN #31, asks a provocative question, and proposes an answer. Permalink to this paragraph

Jay Rosen of course is exploring what he calls the studio approach to J-school. Permalink to this paragraph

I have my own theory, which does not exclude any of the others. Permalink to this paragraph

I think like everything else in the age of the Internet, J-school gets distributed and decentralized. The gatekeepers in all disciplines are routed-around. The principles of journalism are central to the decentralization, if you can stand that much irony in one phrase! :-) Permalink to this paragraph

In the future everyone can be a journalist, and the people who will be most valuable are those who are experts in areas outside journalism. That means, to me, that everyone should get a basic journalism education, in the same way it’s a good idea for us to take a semester of math, English lit, chemistry or physics. Permalink to this paragraph

When I was in college it was thought that everyone should get a semester of computer programming. If it weren’t for that thought (it wasn’t quite a requirement in the 70s) I would never have given programming a try, because I didn’t think I had an aptitude for it. It was a good thing I did. Permalink to this paragraph

I am a radical on this subject — I think everyone should have a basic education in journalism, at least one semester. We need people to understand the basic practices: How to do an interview, the structure of a news report, what does integrity mean and why it’s so important. What should we expect as consumers? Or are we users now? Audience? Participants? How to write up a bad experience with a company. With the government. With the university you attend. Permalink to this paragraph

How to be a citizen in the 21st century. Permalink to this paragraph

We make the mistake of calling it citizen journalism without going to the trouble of understanding what it means to be a citizen, and how, as technology evolves, the role of the citizen evolves too. Permalink to this paragraph

Listening is an art that is constantly being upheaved. And if journalism is anything, it’s the art of listening, and then the art of being heard. Permalink to this paragraph

So, that’s my two cents. Permalink to this paragraph

Now it’s your turn to tell me what I’m full of. :-) Permalink to this paragraph

20 Responses to “What does the J-school of the Future look like?”

  1. Totally agree. There is no way to prevent the onslaught of “i-Reporters” out there… the least we can do is make sure that everyone uploading a video or sharing what’s going on in their community has some basic knowledge of good reportage.

    Skills like using legitimate and namable sources, getting both sides of the story, analyzing content for implications and connecting what they see to the “bigger picture” are things that any responsible citizen should know, not just top journalists (and it’s amazing how journalists routinely ignore these rules of engagement!)

    Also – knowing the line between chasing down the facts (i.e. getting to the bottom of the Wall Street meltdown of 2008) and exploiting people for tabloid fodder (i.e. harassing the children of Jon and Kate as both parents try to milk them for all they’re worth) would be well worth teaching.

  2. I like it, but look how much good those general-education courses are doing today’s batch of BAs. It won’t stick. You’ll never be able to distribute that skill over the general population — you can’t even distribute financial literacy or more than basic numeracy over the general population…

  3. Wonderfully fleshed out…

    A marriage of reality (tv) and real-time (news) pressuring and transforming journalism (and entertainment) ..the rise of gonzo.
    Current verification sytems will have to evovle, I bet a googlesque algorithm could sort that, the resposibility of quality and ethics will rest on the “i-reporter”, ..however the news or entertainment value will be decided by the consumers, users, audeince, and yes, participants.

    What could be more decentralized..

  4. I participated in and it was sort of what you were talking about. I thought it was quite effetive for a first effort, but then it went away. I think it might form a model for the J-school of the future. Or is that what you are already saying:-)

    Oh, and BTWm did you make up “upheaved.” Shouldn’t it be something like “uphoven?”

  5. It is critical along with a range of other skills. I would group all the following together as some sort of ‘Citizenship’ or ‘Civics’ training – cover each one and the overlaps between them. A basic version should be taught in school (to 15 yr olds so everyone gets covered) and then more advanced at Tertiary level.

    – Political systems & Government: how are Governments structured and elected? What is the separation of powers? What is my vote worth? What are the different functions of Government? What is the role of Government vs. the Market? What is the role of regulation?
    – Media: what is the role of the media & journalism? Who owns the media and how does it shape public opinion?
    – Marketing, Advertising, PR & Brands: how do these get used to achieve their objectives? What and how many messages are we subjected to every day?
    – Economics: The fundamental Macro & Micro economic forces, how they affect us as individuals, companies and countries.

    Phew – I think that’s enough!

  6. What does higher level education look like in the future? I think that’s just as an important and critical question.

  7. Thoughtful post. I was the editor of my school paper long ago, and that taught me to be able to go to the school principal and ask him questions, and expect answers. Another useful skill set: nurture your inner librarian: Understand the role of information in a society. Organize and tag information in such a way that retrieval for you and others is easy in the future. Understand how to find, evaluate and use information effectively.
    I do think higher education is going through a huge assessment period right now–I can’t wait to see how it evolves on a global scale.

  8. […] Leave a comment Go to comments Dave Winer (father of the RSS feed), wrote over on Rebooting the News “In the future everyone can be a journalist, and the people who will be most valuable are […]

  9. Absolutely. Because, no matter how great your expertise, if you can’t put sentences together or organize information in a way that makes people want to absorb it, you’re just making noise.

    On a related note, Northwestern’s dean of Journalism is being labeled a heretic for merging the principles of journalism and integrated marketing (by adding principles of audience understanding to the curriculum). The risk, of course, is that journalism will devolve into propaganda. The opportunity, though, is to help a new generation of journalists apply good journalistic practices in new forms adapted to people less inclined to pick up a newspaper (or watch a 30-60 minute broadcast).

  10. a required course in journalism would be tremendous, or perhaps it needs to be bolted into courses like civics where it pertains to the democracy, or to english, where it pertains to writing, or to graphic design, or film, or other mediums. ah, how complicated it is to find where ‘journaling’ current events actually belongs in our neatly taxonomized pedagogy… for it really permeates everything.

    yes, we are all storytellers and we all have stories to tell to audiences of various sizes. we always have been. and we now have a different paradigm to establish a new kind of meritocracy that determines which stories are the most important, relevant and accurate as well as which are the ones that are told in the most interesting and captivating ways.

    the role of journalism still exists above all as a credibility engine as we negotiate the teetering scales of platform and power to the new balance in this change moment.

    the journalists of the future will still be the best of the best storytellers – just as i can play guitar, but certainly not as well as jimi hendrix could, and therefore i don’t have the same stature in that space – but journalism of the future will have to be social scientists, cataloggers, and curators of information more than ever before to provide the valuable service of continuing to inform the public accurately and efficiently.

  11. […] just wrote a piece about the J-school of the Future over on Rebootnews. After writing it, I sent a note to Doc Searls and JP Rangaswami of British […]

  12. […] just wrote a piece about the J-school of the Future over on Rebootnews. After writing it, I sent a note to Doc Searls and JP Rangaswami of British […]

  13. […] Dave Winer puts in his two cents […]

  14. […] J-school of the future. […]

  15. […] in store for the venerable institution of j-school? Dave Winer thinks we might see the emergence of journalism school for all; Cody Brown thinks j-school might someday look like the MIT Center For Collective Intelligence. […]

  16. […] Winer in a blogpost in Rebooting the News suggests that a semester of journalism in college (or high school) should be […]

  17. […] in store for the venerable institution of j-school? Dave Winer thinks we might see the emergence of journalism school for all; Cody Brown thinks j-school might someday look like the MIT Center For Collective Intelligence. […]

  18. […] Ryan Sholin suggests? Or try to become part of the wider academic curriculum — a sort of “journalism school for all” general-education requirement, as Dave Winer […]

  19. […] décembre dernier, Dave Winer s’interrogeait sur le futur des écoles de journalisme. Sa conclusion: «tout le monde pourra être journaliste, et les gens qui seront les plus précieux […]

  20. I think anyone who wants to be a reporter/journalist/writer needs to take basic journalism classes. Classes such as how to correctly write and spell. I think it is an insult to writers who have gone to school specifically for journalism, to be beat out for a job by someone who never went to school for it, just because they can blog. Maybe that’s just my opinion. But I’m putting in my time and effort at school to become a better writer, so should others who want to write.

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