Trouble in the academy - part XXIV
Mark Glaser's Media Shift interview earlier this month with Robert Niles on the demise of Online Journalism Review has been bugging me for some time. It's these two paragraphs:
The more I think about it, the more I think that says so much about why journalism schools are unlikely to lead the "revolution," even at a time when the industry actually is making noises like it might listen.
One of the biggest challenges for OJR is that there is no dedicated online journalism program at Annenberg School and no faculty that specialize in online journalism. At one point, longtime OJR administrator Larry Pryor was an online journalism professor, but he was moved into environmental journalism and other research projects. Now, Wilson’s charge is to hire two or three new faculty with online experience. The problem he will have is one that has dogged journalism schools: How do you attract faculty in a nascent field where they can make more money in the private sector?“It’s hard to get senior, tenure-able faculty in a field that’s barely 10 years old,” Niles said. “It’s always been a little bit difficult in journalism because so many people in it are professionals in the field and not getting PhDs. We’ve always been a field that’s light on PhDs. I know [Annenberg School] was looking at some people for online but they couldn’t get tenure for them. And I looked at those names and said, ‘If you can’t get tenure for those people, you can’t get tenure for anyone in online.’ I’ve heard the same from people at other schools, so you have to be willing to be taking people and put them on the tenure track earlier…That’s a tough process.
Here's the problem:
- Academe pretty much requires a PhD these days
- Journalism, when it produces PhDs tends to produce people steeped in the current media culture, not looking forward to new ones
- This is exacerbated by the overall culture of communications in the academy where much of the research is critical (thus, almost by definition, backward-looking)
- Therefore, your chances of leading the crowd are even less
Labels: journalism education