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What kind of journalism education today best sets students up for success tomorrow?

New era, new direction

A new digital era points to new possibilities for journalism to evolve, survive and thrive. Weigh in on what you think is possible. Credit: Lisa Skube

In this post, the JA is reaching out to students and recent journalism school graduates to learn how they hope to, or are applying, their educations. We invite your revelations, reflections or suggestions, from the classroom to the field, what is your J-school experience? This is an open call for students (and recent grads) to share your comments.

Your input helps the JA bring fresh perspective “from the source” to help give the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication’s team the ability to consider your needs as they design their new Center for Journalism Innovation.  Your ideas will help us think proactively about how a new Center might be optimized to fuel your success, as you help us reimagine journalism’s future.

How do students of journalism today hope to gain the skills and insight to deliver new forms of journalism that thrive? What most excites you about journalism and your place in it? And what most frustrates you as you think about your future in journalism?

“Re-thinking J-school”

For thousands of students attending campuses offering a growing number of journalism tracks, we hear a range of experiences. The JA shares talk, tweets and student sparked commentary as we track a broad spectrum of debate, discussion and hope for what is beginning to evolve. In all of that, we see a healthy growing tension between the market demand for journalism products and the academic opportunity for innovation this moment holds promise to deliver.

This post invites a deeper conversation inspired by students, how those of you in the process of getting your degrees and just getting out into the job market see what may be working, or not working, for you. And how you think it might work, in some instances, to be even better.

Katie Zhu, a student at Northwestern recently wrote a post titled “Rethinking J-School” where she offers her hopes and frustrations of having to double major to get the skills and knowledge out of her journalism degree she feels she needs in today’s job market. Columbia is one of the first colleges to offer the dual degree Zhu is petitioning for at Northwestern. Many others are looking at new ways of tapping the entrepreneurial spirit, blending business skills into how the journalism gets done – and bringing this back into the classroom.

With this context lined out, this post aims to spark a conversation, inspired by some of what Zhu asked – questions she’s not alone in asking.

“… But times have changed, and the fields of mathematics, statistics and computer science are ever more important to the emerging fields of data journalism, information graphics, and news applications. That’s where the jobs are. That’s where the industry is heading (arguably, it’s already there).

That’s the new quality and standard to which we need to hold journalism.

We’re never going to fill these jobs or really make impact in this space and push forward if we don’t properly teach and prepare the young’uns coming up. Myself included.

So it’s time we took a long hard look at the way we’re teaching journalism – are we really being prepared in the best way possible for the journalism industry?…”

Additional questions we’ll throw into the mix:

What consistent frustrations do you face? What problems do you have that, if were solved, would make a huge difference?

How will journalism of the future differ from the journalism of the past? What preparation is critical to your success in the field?

What most excites you about the future of journalism and your place in it? What are dying to try?

What observations or direct experiences have you had? Join in the comment thread below to share your take and let’s see what we can learn to seed new thinking for U of O’s new Center!