Professors: We take the risks, you should too

This week's #collegejourn chat resulted in a plan to help professors get on board with the 21st cenutry: Who: Professors, students, journalists, professionals What: "Bring a professor" chat When: Sun., Feb. 22 Where: Why: To discuss ways to modernize college journalism education

Us vs. them

I hate to make this us vs. them, but to be honest, this is an us vs. them situation. Some would argue that "we're all in this together," both the professors and the students. But it's not that way. The students and the industry are in this together. But the professors aren't impacted directly. If they fall behind, they don't see the direct consequences of falling behind and thus have no incentive to change.

It doesn't have to be us vs. them though. Professors can eliminate the us vs. them by taking the risks students are expected to take.  The classroom should foster that innovation, not hinder it. We can take the risks together.

"Communication in a communication department would be a start," said the Mustang Daily managing editor Giana Magnoli when the topic came up in our newsroom. And that's what #bringajprof chat is about. Bringing that communication between staff and students to a national worldwide level.

I recently wrote a blog post that sums up the changes I'd like to see in journalism education:

  1. Scrap print as a track: There is no such thing as a purely print publication. Thus a solely "print" concentration is pointless. Replace it with a "multimedia" track and keep very minimal print aspects involved.
  2. Make video a must for all concentrations: Public relations and news editorial both need to know video editing. Broadcast students who already know how to shoot/edit video need to know how to get it on the Web. All three need to know how to live stream and incoroporate a live chat.
  3. Create a class about social media: Not about platoforms or social networks, though. A class about the community, the conversation, the two-way dynamic of the Web.
  4. Create media business course. Joey Baker said it best in his recent blog post: "What we need more than anything else is a business model for our industry that is sustainable. Why need students not only to be aware of the problem, but contributing to the brain storming that will eventually lead to a solution."
There's more to add since I last wrote that blog post. The following tidbits are the result of a discussion with my friend Ryan Chartrand -- former editor of the Mustang Daily who graduated from Cal Poly's journalism department in June and now works as the lead content producer for the San Diego Union-Tribune.
  • Even since his graduation 8 months ago, social media has blown up and rules have changed
  • Faculty should have acknowledged the problems within their industry (of which they were unaware) and recognized the new trends of news consumption early
  • By acknowledging and recognizing, they could have then incorporated that knowledge into their coursework
  • Instead, they figured that teaching the fundamentals of journalism were more important than the tools you report with (they were wrong)
  • They didn't understand how much the tools and the medium had changed the game
  • When the game changes that much from the tools alone, the fundamentals change too
  • Ultimately, they were teaching fundamentals that didn't apply anymore
In summary, professors go back to college not to simply teach what they already know. They should come back to continue learning, because they miss that knowledge and keeping up with it.  I may be speaking for myself, but as a student, that's the expectation I have from my professors.
What I'm asking of journalism faculty everywhere:
  • A thirst for knowledge within their industry
  • Willingness to learn new media with us
  • Creating an environment that allows students to innovate