Sunday, December 2, 2007

J-School is for Losers

I recently read an article titled “The Vigilante Journalist” that was an interview with Matt Taibbi, a national reporter who writes from the left-libertarian perspective, whose column is the reason for over a million-plus subscribers to the Rolling Stone’s. When asked whether any sane young person should consider a career in journalism Taibbi replied:

If you have no real knowledge or skill set and you’re lazy and full of shit but you want to make a decent wage, then journalism’s not a bad career option. The great think about it is that you don’t need to know anything...I can’t believe people actually go to journalism school. You can learn the entire thing in like three days.

His advice to those going into journalism is to go to school for something concrete like medicine or science, then use that knowledge as a wedge to get yourself into journalism. Because what journalism really needs is more people reporting who actually know something instead of a bunch of liberal arts grads who write about health care like they are doctors.

Even though I’m not going to school for journalism I have had the privilege of taking a few journalism based courses and I must say that while the basics are easy there is no possible way that anyone can learn the entire ins and outs of journalism in simply a matter of days. While I see, and respect, where Taibbi is coming from with wanting those who write about the news to actually have background knowledge about what they are writing about, I can’t help but feel that he is a little off in his assertions. Maybe he has never taken an editing and design class, perhaps he should try it before he speaks so loudly.


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George said...

Interesting. Perhaps the solution is J-school Masters level only after solid liberal arts Bachelors. Or undergrad journalism only as a minor. I think few reputable liberal arts colleges offer it as a major, though they have the classes in English or Communications depts. Maybe I'm off -- I graduated 1980. No doubt there is much to be taught and learned about journalism; no doubt much must be on-job training; no doubt substantive background is crucial. But it should be broad based, quality education in small classes with professors, not grad assistants.