The Public Interest

Why journalism schools?

Stephen White

Winter 1986

ONE CONCLUSION can be safely drawn at the outset: Pursuing a journalism curriculum in the college of choice is the best of all procedures for one who seeks a career in journalism. That having been said, the rest is perplexity.  A good deal of that perplexity is encapsulated in two sentences.  Both are to be found in literature from a university of no small eminence, issued by its College of Journalism as part of its efforts to attract students. “Journalism is a profession,” the first sentence reads, “and academic preparation for it is similar in many ways to that offered by schools of law, medicine and education.” The other, speaking also of the charms of a journalistic career, asserts (with some syntactical confusion) that “It includes advertising, public relations, broadcasting and magazines.’” The first of the two statements is mostly preposterous. The second is in the mode of Lewis Carroll’s Humpty-Dumpty, and in that light might even be considered an understatement, for the institution that provides a home for journalism may also offer degrees in “library science” and “speech” and even something called “interpersonal communication.”

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