Dan Gillmor on J-schools

Check out this post from Dan Gillmor, on the future of journalism education. He provides a great list of suggestions, and every J-school in the country would serve their students well by adopting the list. There’s something that he didn’t mention, though: How do you move a faculty entrenched in legacy media to change to adopt a modern approach?

Academia has four significant characteristics that bode against any journalism school that has been around for more than 5 years adopting Gillmor’s suggestions:

— Tenure, a valuable protection for academic freedom, has been used by many journalism faculty to erect barriers against embracing change.

— A dean manages tenured faculty members, but s/he’s not really their boss — they can, do and have dug their heels in, even though it obviously slows their schools from adapting to the tremendous changes that are occurring in journalism.

— Most J-schools, especially those that are tax-supported, operate with a business model that isolates them from the market forces that are changing journalism.

— Most J-school faculty come from legacy media and have little experience in niche news development or in entrepreneurial journalism, the two largest trends in journalism today.

One solution: Every J-school faculty member is given a 6-month sabbatical to work in a niche news organization — site or network — that is NOT part of a legacy news organization. That would give faculty much of the experience and insight they need to understand what changes need to be made and why they need to be made quickly.


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