Can Columbia’s Famed Journalism School Adjust to the Times?

With traditional newpaper journalism imploding before its competition with the Internet, New York magazine asks whether Columbia’s journalism school is imploding with it.

Money quote:

Part of the problem is the perception that the situation is “a zero-sum game,” as one person put it, where adding lessons in video production or law for bloggers will dilute or displace the school’s long-heralded focus on journalism’s core precepts: concise prose, ethical reporting, and sophisticated editorial sensibilities. “There’s this big, huge, fundamental issue: How much of the skills do you teach?” says journalism school dean Nicholas Lemann.

And one older journalism professor has drawn ire for cussing down the new media:

But the push for modernization has also raised the ire of some professors, particularly those closely tied to Columbia’s crown jewel, RW1. “Fuck new media,” the coordinator of the RW1 program, Ari Goldman, said to his RW1 students on their first day of class, according to one student. Goldman, a former Times reporter and sixteen-year veteran RW1 professor, described new-media training as “playing with toys,” according to another student, and characterized the digital movement as “an experimentation in gadgetry.”

Goldman’s official take on the situation is considerably more measured, and he insists he is not against new media. “They need to know the ethics and history and practice of journalism before they become consumed with the mold they put it in, because the mold will change — the basics won’t,” he says, explaining his outburst.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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