I overheard my science major (and incredibly loud) roommate on the phone saying to one of her friends that Mizzou had nothing to offer her, because we were known for journalism, and not science. She went on to say that going to school for journalism was ridiculous. It is a type of job that doesn’t need a degree, she claimed. And it sounded as if her friend wholeheartedly agreed. (I promise I was not eavesdropping, I’m forced to listen to the majority of her conversations due to the volume of her abrasive voice.)
But this got me thinking, do journalists really need a degree? Often times, they do not. This blog for instance, I did not need a license to obtain it. I do not have to submit reports about the status of my blog to a higher authority for evaluation. I simply go online, and blog. It’s as simple as that. The majority of the journalism education I’m going to receive will also be obtained through real world models. I will work at a newspaper, that puts out a real live publication daily for all of Columbia, Missouri. Not just my fellow students. Even now, I am doing stories on actual events that are occurring, and they are newsworthy and relevant. Basically, here at the J-school we learn by doing. We’re practically interns our last two years of our degree. But is there really any other way to do it?
In theory, we could just study what the pros do already, examine their work and compare it to not-so-good counterparts. And we can write 5 paragraph papers with a thesis stating how a piece of journalism is or is not excellent, but would that really be beneficial in the long run? Methinks no.
If we were to just analyze pre-exisiting journalism, we would be forever stuck in one model. Our stories would always be written the same way, the same five formulaic camera angles would be used for every news video, and all thoughts of expansion into the digital world would be kaput.
The reason why Mizzou is considered a great journalism school is because it puts us students in real-world situations. We have more than a standard student newspaper, we have a newspaper that is essentially a community paper, along with a radio station, magazine, and TV broadcasting station that all report on and belong to Columbia, Missouri as a community. The intermixing of professionals and students means a lot of good examples are set, and while students are expected to be as professional as well, the pros, there’s more room for critique and learning without say, getting fired.
So our education may look different from some other degrees on campus, but I think it’s just as valuable as a lecture hall, if not more so. We learn to adapt to current events and changes within the journalism community while we’re at school. With a profession as adaptable as ours, that’s a good lesson to learn. Not to mention all of the good contacts and opportunities we’re offered at the j-school are reason enough to pay tuition. A lot of the job hiring out there will be made by recruiters that are familiar with the University of Missouri and the high standards placed on the students there. It’s always a good conversation starter when a recruiter says, “I’m an MU grad too….”