6 foundations tell journalism schools to change faster or risk future funding

by Howard Finberg

As thousands of educators head off to Chicago for the 100th anniversary convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, I can promise that one of the most talked-about topics will be the recent open letter to university presidents signed by six foundations that have a special interest in journalism.

It was a letter that brought even more attention and focus to discussions about the future of journalism education. At its core, the foundations want university presidents and provosts to move faster and further to change the way journalism is taught. And that was said in bold language.

We believe journalism and communications schools must be willing to recreate themselves if they are to succeed in playing their vital roles as news creators and innovators. Some leading schools are doing this but most are not. Deans cite regional accreditation bodies and university administration for putting up roadblocks to thwart these changes. However, we think the problem may be more systemic than that. We are calling on university presidents and provosts to join us in supporting the reform of journalism and mass communication education.

The open letter, signed by the Knight Foundation, the McCormick Foundation, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, Scripps Howard Foundation, Brett Family Foundation and the Wyncote Foundation, argues that schools aren’t keeping pace with the new career opportunities for journalists and there’s resistance to changing the courses that are taught and how they are taught.

We firmly support efforts by The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications to modernize standards. The council recognizes that schools need to provide students the ability to pursue career paths as journalist-entrepreneurs or journalism-technologists.

Furthermore, we believe ACEJMC should develop accreditation standards that spotlight the importance of technology and innovation. University facilities must be kept up to date. Currently, many are not.

That urging is all well and good. But if you are a foundation that gives money, why not put it in terms that gets the attention of university presidents, many of whom are their school’s chief fundraiser?

Read more at Poynter.org

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.