Future of Journalism Education: Editors, Journalism Educators Lay It on the Line at Colorado Session

Article excerpt

Future of journalism education

Joining the national debate on the quality of today's journalism education, the Colorado Press Association laid it on the line at their 113th annual convention, presenting editors, educators and industry leaders the results of a statewide survey on education and employment.

The discussion that followed came down hard on educators for not teaching enough, criticized editors for the lack of paid internships, and recommended a continued dialogue between both groups to improve the quality of graduates and future employees.

"Recent college graduages, no matter how good, cannot get hired on one of the top 10 dailies in Florida directly out of school," said Bob Haiman, director of the St. Petersburg-based Poynter Institute for Media Studies. "They're simply regarded as not being able to cut the grade. Most people out of college in my judgment don't have the requisite skills to do metropolitan daily journalism."

Haiman's comments during a nearly three-hour discussion among CPA members and a 12-member panel come amid the recent national debate on journalism education, one sparked by the American Society of Newspaper Editors 1990 survey that found a growing lack of confidence in journalism education across the country.

Concerned and curious about their own state of educational affairs in Colorado, the CPA education committee and pollster Floyd Ciruli of Ciruli Associates in Denver created an education-and-newspaper survey. Compiling their own set of statistics, CPA presented them to spark discussion and dialogue.

"We hope this will open the door to communication so far we can't close it," said Ray Sullivan, Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph administrator and 1990 CPA education committee chairman.

The 12-member panel, moderated by Denny Dressman, assistant managing editor for administration at the Rocky Mountain News, included local professionals Carl Miller of the Rocky Mountain Health Care Corporation and Jacque Scott, editor of the Golden Transcript. Also asked to respond were educators Wick Roland, dean of the University of Colorado School of Journalism and Mass Communication; Ron Claxton, assistant professor of journalism at Metropolitan State College of Denver; Dave Clark, professor of journalism, Colorado State University; and Charles Ingold, assistant professor of journalism at the University of Northern Colorado. Two recent Colorado journalism graduates, Carol Forkner of the Boulder County Business Journal and Steve Hemphill of the Scottsbluff Star-Herald in Nebraska were also on the panel.

Providing the national perspective were Haiman; Ted Natt, executive editor of the Longview, Wash., Daily News; Joe Shoquist, dean of the journalism school at the University of South Carolina, and Bill Winter, director of the American Press Institute.

Ciruli said the survey results are raw data needing more analysis. The newspaper survey drew responses from 18 dailies and 39 weeklies, about 69% of the total CPA dailies and 36% of the weeklies.

The survey found that dailies hired almost twice as many journalism school graduates as non-journalism school graduates out of 525 new hires in the last three years, but 82% of the journalism school graduates hired had at least one to over three years' experience. Eleven percent were hired directly out of journalism school with no experience. The remainder had less than a year's experience.

The Colorado weeklies hired journalism graduates or non-journalism graduates with little or no experience. Almost 40% of their new hires were journalism graduates with less than a year's experience.

Both dailies and weeklies - 67% and 40% respectively - put internships at the top of their list as the most important factor in a hiring decision.

The newspaper survey also gathered information on salaries, age, gender, and skill levels of new hires.

Sam Archibald, a professor from the University of Colorado at Boulder presented the education survey. …