Journalism Educators Become More What Editors and Publishers Want

Article excerpt

EDITORS AND PUBLISHERS, take heart. A new study of journalism professors indicates that we are becoming more what you want.

You've long complained that too many journalism professors lack professional experience, emphasize doctorate degrees and esoteric research too much and teaching too little.

On the other hand, our academic colleagues condemn us for opposite reasons. For instance, my university raised faculty salaries last year. Funds for the salaries were distributed to colleges and then to departments and schools based on "merit."

The journalism school received enough to raise faculty salaries 2.5%, while faculty in the science area received enough to raise faculty salaries 5.5%. Only one unit in the College of Arts and Sciences got a lower percentage for raises than the journalism school.

Our percentage of Ph.D.'s and our production of research journal articles was comparatively too low, the Dean implied. He ignored the fact that we teach three courses per semester, while most science professors teach only one.

Needless to say, we were unhappy. Thinking that a comparison of our faculty to other journalism faculty would enlighten the Dean to how productive we are, I decided to acquire information about other faculties.

With a graduate student, I headed to Lawrence, Kan., where the Accrediting Council of Education in Journalism and Mass Communication maintains self studies. Over two days, we reviewed 16 self studies and 191 faculty vitas.

Here's what I learned. We meet your expectations much better than we do those of our academic colleagues and deans. We have considerable professional experience. Less than half (49%) of us hold doctorate degrees. We devote much more time to teaching than to research.

My study found that the average journalism educator has 10.9 years of full-time professional experience, having worked at 3.3 professional jobs.

Other studies offered similar results. Two 1982 studies determined that journalism educators recorded from 7.4 to 12.5 years of professional experience. Only 1.5% had none.

A 1988 study found that only 13 educators (1.4%) of 893 sampled had no professional experience. Years of professional experience for these educators ranged between 1-50 years with a mean of 9. …