By: M.L. Stein
Study shows increased cooperation between j-schools and the
professional media; however, much is driven by self-interest
and the groups still do not communicate well with one another sp.
ALLIANCES BETWEEN journalism schools and the media are increasing at a rapid rate although many of the joint programs seem motivated more by the opportunity for “cheap labor” than educational or professional benefits, a new study reports.
Still, the cooperation between the two groups represents an encouraging trend from the years when they rarely talked to each other or knew what the other was doing, according to Charles Self, head of the Texas A&M Department of Journalism and chairman of a joint task force that has examined the development for the past two years.
He announced the committee’s findings at the 77th annual convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication in Atlanta.
AEJMC, along with the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication (journalism school administrators), formed the task force, which received responses from 162 journalism schools and 583 Newspaper Association of America members.
The task force found that:
? Ninety-nine of the schools surveyed use professionals in the classroom and give credit for student field experience.
? Eighty-nine percent use media pros as adjunct or part-time faculty and 77% said some faculty consult with media organizations.
? In all, more than 500 specific alliances were listed by respondents.
? The larger the news organization, the more likely it was to be involved in cooperative activity with schools.
? Most of the alliances seemed to be worked out with specific schools rather than through nationally organized programs.
However, the investigators reported: “Many alliances appear to be driven by a narrow view of self-interest. Schools use cheap labor from professional speakers or professionals as adjunct faculty while media form alliances for cheap labor from interns, new graduates or faculty consultants. Partnerships that focus on generating new knowledge or improving the operations that produce education appear less frequently.”
Publishers, according to the survey, reported many instances of cooperative activity, although it was unevenly distributed among newspapers and there was disagreement between educators and professionals over goals.
Both supported student field work but educators preferred alliances that provided money and equipment while editors and publishers sought input into curriculum and on-campus training.
The task force noted there is little guidance to help educators and professionals develop a more productive relationship and that “expertise in the field has not been pulled together in a systematic way that is quickly available to deal with complex problems facing all aspects of the cooperation.”
The group recommended that academics and media representatives create an ongoing coordinating mechanism to foster alliances. It urged “revolving-door exchange programs between the classroom and the media boardroom.”
It pointed out that faculty internships are not new but there should be more two-way swaps.
“We believe that many missed opportunities result from mistrust, misinformation, and confusion about motives and objectives in cooperative alliance activity,” Self said. “It seems almost too silly to report, but we found that media professionals and media educators simply don’t communicate with each other very well.”
He said the survey found, for example, that educators knew more about the media than professionals gave them credit for and that professionals knew more about journalism education and mass communication research than professors imagined.
Despite these kinks, successful cooperative ventures are “all around us,” Self said and offered these examples:
? The Alabama Press Association pays for l2 University of Alabama students to cover the state capital as stringers for small newspapers.
? The Milwaukee Journal and Sentinel help fund a “Rainbow Workshop” at Marquette University for pre-college recruitment of minority students.
? The Arizona Republic and the Phoenix Gazette provide a $15,000 matching grant with local newspapers to generate $30,000 a year for the journalism program at Arizona State University.
? Utah State University airs a satellite teleconference for circulation executives.
? The Philadelphia Advertising Club informs LaSalle University students about scholarships.
? University of New Mexico faculty members edit a monthly newsletter for the state press association.
Also on the Atlanta panel was Jerry Ceppos, managing editor of the San Jose Mercury News and president of the California Society of Newspaper Editors, which recently announced a plan to lobby state legislators and others on getting more resources for journalism schools and departments.
Ceppos stressed “quality alliances and not simply phone calls between the industry and the academy once a year.”
The editor said one area neglected in the college-industry hook-ups is advertising and he suggested its inclusion, commenting: “If advertising is part of your journalism program, you can make yourself indispensable to many newspapers, including mine.”
Ceppos asserted that most newspaper advertising departments have far fewer minority employees than even newsrooms and thus have no sales reps who can speak Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean or whatever language is spoken by many business people in their communities.
The speaker said he found it “astonishing” that almost no newspaper advertising department maintains ties with a journalism school. He disclosed that the Mercury News’ parent company, Knight-Ridder, wants to extend its journalism school connections to the business side and is identifying schools where entry-level marketing students can be recruited on campus.
“We do have one special requirement,” Ceppos added. “Knight-Ridder is looking for schools where advertising students are taught the values and importance of the news side.”
Ceppos also advised journalism programs to develop professional advisory boards but only if they are meaningful. He held up Penn State’s collaboration with the Pennsylvania Society of Newspaper Editors as one of the top arrangements, saying California editors intend to use it as a model for their planned board.
A third panelist, Dr. Joyce Gattas, dean of the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts at San Diego State University, said journalism programs should take cues from other colleges and departments that have productive links with the business and professional community.
Gattas, whose college houses 14 departments including journalism, said, “Just look at the alliances between med school, business schools and the medical community, law schools and the legal community. What works for them that can work for us?”
She noted that at San Diego State two major accounting firms are funding two endowed chairs in the School of Accounting and the university’s International Center for Communications has received a half-million dollar grant from Time Warner.
“The point is that every university, whether big or small, no matter where it’s located, must assess its own unique strengths, plug into its community, and forge alliances with an overriding commitment to its students and their future,” Gattos observed.
For instance, she went on, journalism research that explores the impact of messages on audiences is important “but too often the research gets lost because it stays within the confines of the academic community. In an age of global conversations, why are we keeping our research so isolated? Why aren’t we going for maximum exposure? It’s a loss to those in the media and to society itself.”