WTF, Mizzou?

10 Jun

I read about this about a week ago, but I haven’t gotten around to writing about it until now. The School of Journalism at the University of Missouri is restructuring itself and bucking all of the journalism “rules” that I’ve learned in the past five years. Students at Mizzou will now be able to choose from 25 areas of interest in which to major, including news design, international journalism and watchdog journalism.

This really threw me for a loop. All I’ve been hearing about is convergence, convergence, convergence. Needing to learn how to do a little bit of everything – write for print, write for broadcast, shoot and edit a TV package, develop web features, etc. Now, that’s not to say you can’t go your own route at KU – people usually attach themselves to, say, Jayplay or the Kansan or KUJH and concentrate their efforts there. And the students at Mizzou will still have to take a basic multimedia course like our Journalism 415. But the focuses between the two schools are now fundamentally different – take our new, single newsroom, for example. Another step toward convergence.

All this being said, I can’t decide whether I think  Mizzou is a genius or an idiot. I have, from time to time, wondered what convergence is doing to the quality of work in any one area. Logically, it seems like being forced to learn a little bit about everything means we’re not going to be as good at any one of those things. And I’ve increasingly started to take an interest in copy editing as my career field of choice – Would it be better to have a degree in news editing rather than just news and information?

On the other hand, newsrooms are shrinking. That’s not a secret. Revenue’s down, the transition into the digital world is still being figured out, and employers are making do with far less. Just check the job listings – news organizations want workers who can do it all. And I am glad that I can explore all of the different focuses of journalism at KU. I don’t have to choose – if I want to jump over to KUJH, although I most definitely don’t, nothing is stopping me.

All in all, I certainly think it will be interesting to compare KU and MU, two leading j-schools, to see how their respective paths pan out.

On a slightly unrelated note, here are some videos that say it all about Missouri!

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