Journalism programs at Texas Christian University and University of Colorado/Boulder tell different stories about the future of journalism education

I always enjoy the university commercials shown during the halftime of college football games. I’m interested in seeing how universities present themselves and what programs and activities they chose to highlight.

So I really perked up when the Texas Christian University commercial ran during the halftime of the TCU-Oregon game.

The TCU slogan is “Ahead of the Curve,” and the commercial focused on the Schieffer School of Journalism. Here’s the voice over:

“Staying ahead of the curve means that our student journalists are reporting in real time. TCU. Learning…to change the world.”

The TCU message is a contrast to the situation at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where the process is underway that may lead to discontinuing the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. A story in Inside Higher Ed (Sept. 2, 2010) says that Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano has appointed a three-person committee to begin “program discontinuation.”

At the core of the discussion is whether the current CU journalism program is preparing students for the media industry and if the faculty could make adequate changes to the curriculum to prepare students for the media’s future. Some argue that programs that put an emphasis on technology can take away from the core journalism principles that need to be taught. Others argue that being able to use technology in reporting and telling stories is vital to reaching the audience and telling stories in a more engaging way.

According to the story in Inside Higher Ed, an external advisory board, which includes a number of media professionals, recommended that the CU journalism program be terminated. In a letter that went to the chancellor in April, the board wrote:

“We support the closing of the SJMC. As long-time news and advertising professionals who revere the rich tradition of journalism, we make this recommendation soberly and thoughtfully. And yet, we are clear-eyed about the current and future landscape and the need to prepare our students to thrive in a new, diverse and digitally rich information environment.”

With these two schools as examples of journalism education, it looks like we’d better face the camera (in the iPhone) or face the music.

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