Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Trouble With Journalism Schools

Mike Duffy's recent comments about media bias towards Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party confirm what we've all been saying for years.

“I’ve just been speaking to a couple of young journalists and I was shocked,” he said.

“One young journalist in New Brunswick said to me, ‘when I see Stephen Harper I see the enemy.’ It’s not journalists’ place to have enemies.”

Angry in the Great White North thinks that part of the problem might lie with the journalism schools from which most journalists come these days.

I agree. I'm a journalism school graduate myself who has never worked as a professional journalist. Four years of journalism school killed any desire I might have had to be one.

One mantra repeated by my professors--several of whom had been long-time CBC employees--was that our role as journalists was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

Who the comfortable and the afflicted were, of course, were always defined in leftist terms.

Groupthink caught on quite early, and I was considered something of an outsider for having outspoken and articulate right-of-centre political convictions.

But the real problem with journalism schools is that the students who attend them are usually just not that well-educated themselves. It's entirely possible to go through an honours journalism program without taking electives in courses you'd think journalists need--political science, history and economics--in order to allow them to report knowledgably on public events.

In the absence of that basic knowledge, they fall back on groupthink. And because all of their colleagues think the same way, it must be right, and they don't generally question what they've been told.

Anyone can be taught to write in the inverted pyramid style or produce a 70 second cart. But that's not what journalists need to know, most of all.

They need to know what they're reporting on. And in the main, they don't.

Source: Charlottetown Guardian


Canadi-anna said...

Very well said.
I hope someday you decide to take your education and use it to turn things upside down.

Jason Monteith said...

It must have been exhausting to try to explain to your peers and professors some of the realities of the world... people who fall victim to "groupthink" are notoriously difficult to reason with.