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Journalism Schools: “A Place to Hack”

September 23, 2009

As evermore journalism jobs disappear into the print-and-ink-stained heavens, journalism schools continue to cite at times dramatic enrollment increases at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  A new Chronicle of Higher Education report confirms the latest wave of students’ j-school love- something that first seemed like a fluke but now must be confirmed as a trend.

From my vantage point, these students do not appear to be naive (at least not en masse).  They are proactive.  They know Journalism Jobs 3.0 will be what they create as much as what they will be hired into.  They recognize that the future is now and the Internet is a free-for-all and a quality niche project or platform can earn them attention and possibly even money while still in school. And so they see a journalism major as viable because it provides the most freedom to experiment with the online world’s wonders and delights- whether it’s starting a high-profile personal blog, a full-blown publication or a global collaborative reporting project.

In a new piece for Online Journalism Review, Carnac the Webtastic (AKA Robert Niles) argues that students should demand “a place to hack” from their journalism schools.  As he explains, “Online is becoming the dominant news publish[ing] medium. And online publishing will not look the way it does today 10 years from now, just as it looks little now like it did 10 years ago. Students need forums in which to explore and test their interactive publishing skills. They need sandboxes in which to play.”

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