Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ph.d = Piled higher and deeper

Just a quick observation:

Oakland University is advertising for an assistant professor of journalism. One of the requirements is that the candidate have a Ph.d. Oh pleeeeeeeze.
What today's journalism students really need is a crusty old veteran reporter no matter what her/his education to tell them to run like heck in the other direction from journalism.
In all good conscience how can journalism schools continue to crank out folks who stand to make, what, $28,000 a year with little or no benefits.
Whenever I did a high school career day, the first question I asked was how many of the students were good at math. A few hands always went up.
Then I would stun them with a strong suggestion that they forget journalism, go into medicine or a related science field and do themselves and society a big favor by fixing people or discovering a cure for the myriad of diseases that ail us.
How does one get a Ph.d in journalism these days. Probably by writing sophisticated tomes on why newspapers and print journalism is in the tank.


oakland said...

It must be some kind of accreditation or enrollment play. I can see why a top-drawer J-school like Columbia or Syracuse or Northwestern would see the need for an assistant journalism prof. who has a Ph.d. But frankly, I think a Ph.d is going to be pretty lost on the kids at OU.

Journalism schools need to be honest with incoming freshmen who think they're going to work at a paper. With the industry collapsing, the job opportunities are slipping away. Pretty soon, journalism majors will be joining the art history majors as the smartest baristas at Starbucks.

Jim of L-Town said...

Good point, and as always, very funny oakland.....

oakland said...

Last fall I was asked to participate on an alumni panel (NOT at OU); various journalism profs/instructors wanted to pick our brains on what would plus-up the university course offerings so that kids would continue to get jobs upon graduation and be better prepared for the "digital age" of journalism.

To his credit, one of the profs leveled with us and explained that he is very conflicted about what to tell an enterting freshman with his/her heart set on getting into the newspaper business: That if he tells students the job prospects are bleak, then enrollment in the J-classes will shrink, courses will go away and resources will be diverted elsewhere within the university.

Most of us agreed that an appropriate answer would be something along the lines of: The best 10 percent of J-majors will always get jobs. "Best" meaning kids who can report and write well, kids who seek and fulfill multiple internships (even if they're unpaid) vs. working at Chili's or Best Buy for the summer. This means working the internships into the total cost of college, even if that means taking out more loans.

There's nothing wrong with making journalism as selective as, say, medicine or education or music performance. Not every pre-med major will get into medical school. Not every performance major will play for a Top 10 symphony. Getting into an education program has never been more difficult, much less passing the myriad tests. Even people who believe George Bush is a teacher-hater people think that's a good thing.

In fact, one could argue that a better crop of J-grads might do the industry some good, especially when they unseat some of the dunces running many of today's community papers.

rknil said...

That last idea is a good one. It'll never be implemented, though, because today's hiring editors don't want to hire anyone who might be more skilled or intelligent than they are.