Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Criritical Thinking

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Criritical Thinking

Article excerpt

J-school students and industry vets tackle the tough questions

Q: The University of California at Berkeley recently proposed a tuition increase for students who wish to pursue a journalism master's degree, making the total cost for California residents $52,100 for the two-year program. In the face of these rising costs, and a print journalism field where the future is uneasy, is the price of an advanced journalism degree worth the investment?

A: I know full well the joy of holding the physical manifestation of hours upon hours of work in my hands, re-reading the same articles in their final format, until the newsprint bleeds onto my fingers. As a student journalist working at the tail end of the age of the paper, there is something about a print product that proclaims status. Despite the fall of thousands of newspapers worldwide, I can count on seeing my name in newsstands around campus, a testament to being a "real" journalist. But what makes a journalist? Definitely not $52,000 in student debt.

I also know that after I graduate, this luxury will be gone, because in the world outside my small campus, the digital world and the world of journalism have become irrevocably fused. And while traditionalists may never get over this cultural shift, I know quite a few millennial journalists who see this as their way into a seemingly impenetrable industry, relying on innovation and creativity rather than the crutch of paper.

This paradigm shift, where a good digital product is not only valued but preferred to a print product, means one big thing for aspiring storytellers: Anyone can do it. You no longer need a master's from USC Annenberg. You do not have to fork over more than $52,000 for a piece of paper from UC Berkeley that proves you can define what a nut graf is. Instead, you need time to write, an active Twitter and an overactive imagination.

And that is the true benefit of this renaissance in journalism, the new accessibility it provides. It puts the power of storytelling in the hands of those with stories to tell.

Graduate school has never been on my to-do list because I believe the only way to truly learn and grow in this uncertain--and often terrifying--field is by getting our hands dirty.

Chelsea Chenelle, 21 senior, Loyola Marymount University (Calif.)

Chenelle is an art history major and works as the digital managing editor at the student-run Los Angeles Loyolan. …

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