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J-school: Worth it?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by DCguy, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. DCguy

    DCguy Member

    Several friends of mine started in journalism grad school in September. We've been debating this for a while, but I never brought it on here.

    With newspapers and magazines struggling so much, and no clear end in sight, are there any benefits in going to a J-school? Or does the year or two of extra college loans just pile on more debt and delay the inevitability of struggling?
  2. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Mixed answer now.

    You can gain as much, sometimes, through experience in the real world as you can with a masters degree, unless you plan to teach.

    On one hand, this wouldn't seem to be the best time to enter the journalism workforce. On the other, young (and inexpensive) bodies seem to be in style right now in some places.

    Tough call.
  3. Jay Sherman

    Jay Sherman Member

    You can be a history major and end up fine in journalism, but it's getting harder and harder to break into newspapers these days, so good luck either way. I'd probably recommend not going to grad school and trying to just hook on with sports information or PR or something elsewhere, but that's just me.
  4. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    If you major in journalism these days, you should be slapped a few times with a reality stick.

    If it's what you want to do, best of luck and I'd encourage anyone to follow their dreams, but for God's sake, major in something where there is an actual future.
  5. DCguy

    DCguy Member

    See, I always argued that they would be better off just trying to get jobs. Grad school is good for networking and contacts, but after that, you're really in the same boat as the 22-year-old recent grads.

    Our adviser at the time really wanted them to reconsider going to grad school. She said it was a waste of time and money.

    With the way things are going, I think she was on to something ...
  6. I would not go to grad school in journalism to pursue a career in newspapers. I would if I were considering teaching or perhaps expanding my resume so I could go into PR.
  7. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    If you want to go to grad school to get a job in newspapers, forget it.

    If you want to go to grad school to teach, that's fine.

    I've considered going to grad school to teach journalism. However, I don't like the fact that the J-school near me doesn't really have much in the way of an experiential learning component.

    If you had a J-degree and are going for a master's in journalism or if you have four years' experience at a daily, you'd still have to take a class in which you "learn" the basics, same as those who don't have a journalism background. For people with experience, it sucks.
  8. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    I have relatives who nag me about why I don't pursue a master's degree in journalism. They think journalism is just like other professions, in which an advanced degree means more money.

    I tell them that journalism isn't like other professions, and that going back to school for an M.A. in that subject would be like throwing money down the drain. They never could quite understand that.

    Maybe now, with newspapers sinking faster than the Lusitania, they will understand.
  9. franticscribe

    franticscribe Well-Known Member

    That's not necessarily true forever_town. I'm a newspaper vet (six years + undergrad j-degree) in a masters program. I'm not required to take any courses that cover the basics. My program has a way for people with experience to opt out of the entry level skills classes.
  10. KevinmH9

    KevinmH9 Active Member

    Attaining a graduate degree in journalism is pretty much a waste of money. If you want to pursue a career in journalism, follow your dreams, but real life experience is going to outweight a M.A. in Journalism anyday. I'd try to follow a more broad masters program in business, communications, public relations, etc.
  11. franticscribe

    franticscribe Well-Known Member

    It's ridiculous to say that a graduate degree in journalism is a waste of money. It may not be the best decision for many people, including many who are in graduate programs now, but there are situations in which it is worthwhile.

    For people who want to teach journalism at a college level, it has become a basic requirement. So it isn't a waste for them.

    For people who want to go into a specialized area of journalism, such as medical reporting, the masters can give them an entry into that which you aren't going to get at the Bumfuck Daily Bugle. So it isn't a waste for them.

    There's also a pretty strong argument that graduate school is a decent place to weather the economic storm going on right now. That depends on your financial situation, whether the program you're interested in is throwing money your way and a host of other factors. But when the jobs go away, it isn't necessarily a bad thing to go back and get more training while waiting for the economy to recover.

    There's a lot of negativity in the industry right now, understandably, as it goes through a paradigm shift. Clearly we've had a tough few years and the worst is still ahead. But the simple fact is that people crave information now more than ever, as they've gotten used to having enormous amounts available at their fingertips. People who can provide reliable information are going to be in demand and eventually -- on the other side of this paradigm shift -- someone will figure out how to make money from that demand. Going to school to understand better how to deliver information is not exactly a waste of money if you've got nothing else to do.
  12. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    I graduated in May 2007 with an undergraduate degree from a journalism school. As far as I know, more than half my class isn't doing anything in the field - Most have retreated back to school for another degree (poly sci and education are popular, since they're somewhat related). Almost all of us are living at home. I only know of two others working at newspapers; most of the people I know with jobs are working in radio production or public relations, even if they wanted to get into print.

    So, yeah, it's somewhat bleak out there, and I don't see how an advanced degree helps outside of some of the reasons Franticscribe brought up (you want to teach it someday, waiting out the industry).
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