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Marketplace Scratch Pad

Students are flocking to J-School?

Scott Jagow Sep 22, 2009

It’s hard to believe, but admissions to journalism schools are up significantly. I know that defies logic, considering the state of the industry, but it’s true, and it’s an interesting development.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Applications to Columbia University’s master-of-science program in journalism rose 44 percent, to 1,181, for the class entering this fall, and an investigative-journalism specialty drew more than twice as many applications this year than last year, up from 54 in 2008 to 121 this year.

Elsewhere, applications to master’s programs were up 30 percent at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 25 percent at the University of Maryland at College Park, and 24 percent at Stanford University.

Huh. Don’t these students realize what awaits them on the other end of their degree?

A report released last month found that in 2008, graduates of journalism and mass-communication programs had far fewer job interviews and offers than in 2007, and that full-time employment was at its lowest point since at least 1986…

The report blamed the declines on “the sharp downturn in the national economy and the collapse of the economic model for media industries.”

Apparently, young people see this time of media change as an opportunity. Good for them. And to their credit, J-Schools seem to be responding the right way. They’re offering courses like “entrepreneurial journalism” to help students create something new out of the ashes of old-school journalism. Temple University’s Christoper Harper:

“There’s not a great future in working for mainstream media,” says Mr. Harper. “The future is for smart, hard-working students to band together, create their own media, and make a business out of it–and that’s what a lot of them are doing.”

They’d better come up with something that makes money:

Hunter Walker, a student in the master’s program in journalism at Columbia, shared his concerns on Gawker.com, a New York-based media-and-gossip blog, after his orientation session last month. “I owe this school a lot of money,” he wrote, “and I’m still not entirely sure how I’m going to come up with it.”

Columbia’s 10-month program costs about $49,000; with living expenses factored in, the cost is $70,000.

It was a “scary time” to be a journalism student, Mr. Walker wrote, but he remained optimistic that his training in research, writing and investigative skills would land him a job … somewhere.

He may have to create his own job, but the passion for investigative journalism is encouraging.
I keep hearing that kind of journalism is dead.

Apparently not, if these young people have anything to say about it.

Takes me back to those days not too long ago (in dog years) that I was banging out copy at UNC-Chapel Hill’s journalism school.

On a typewriter.

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