J-School Profs Wrong to ‘Bash’ Modern Newspapers

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By: Randolph D. Brandt

As I was reading Denny Wilkins’ column this morning (E&P Online, Aug. 15), I was hearing members of my newsroom staff laughing and talking excitedly about one of the many good stories that will appear in my newspaper tomorrow and on the Web page today.

Unlike Denny Wilkins, who is now a professor at a journalism school, I’ve been in newsrooms for the past 15 years. Maybe he ought to come back and find out what it’s really all about these days.

I, for one, am getting sick and tired of disaffected former journalists whose careers didn’t work out for them bashing us from their academic retirements.

Just imagine if professors at M.I.T. or Drexel taught their students that all they could look forward to in their careers was working for lousy, money-grubbing technology firms, design conglomerates, and architects. They’d last about a day!

Why do we tolerate these people poisoning the minds of the young people that we often have to re-educate so we can then offer them worthwhile work, professional fulfillment, and growth in their careers?

The trades seem full these days with such newspaper bashing, particularly aimed against group ownership for some reason.

Sure, group ownership means more accountability, but it also means a fuller range of training and career opportunities, a larger network of support for reporters and editors, more reader and market research to better understand our audiences, and a greater freedom from the sacred-cow restrictions that often accompany locally owned, family operations.

There are strengths and weaknesses under both types of operations, but it horrifies me to think that newsrooms in general and particularly newsrooms at group-owned newspapers are being mischaracterized each day in our j-schools by professors perhaps more concerned with settling an imagined score than preparing students for their careers.

Maybe it’s time for some of the big industry players to endow some journalism chairs so both sides of this story get told.

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