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To degree or not to degree...

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Rosie, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. Rosie

    Rosie Active Member

    ...that is the question.

    This is inspired by a thread on the jobs board, one where the necessity of a degree -- or lack thereof -- was discussed in performing the duties of an SE. Yeah, this probably belongs on the journalism board, but what can I say? The more, the merrier.

    So. Is a degree a necessity in the newspaper business? Should it be mandatory for management? Or should experience speak for itself?

    Discuss -- politely and civilly.
  2. GBNF

    GBNF Active Member

    Should be required.
  3. BigSleeper

    BigSleeper Active Member

    I've always held that experience rules. Maybe it's more of a personal preference, but I think those in leadership positions should have a degree. I don't feel a journalism degree is necessary for anyone.
  4. Piotr Rasputin

    Piotr Rasputin New Member

    A degree is necessary to save today's journalists from not having one on the inevitable day when they will be looking for another job.

    Is it necessary to do this job? Nope. But my guess would be that dudes without a degree are a little more worried these days than those with them, student loan payments notwithstanding. And if they're not worried yet, they will be, unfortunately.

    Having a degree never hurts you. Not having one never helps you. I don't want a job where either of those statements isn't true.
  5. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Known too many dumb, dumb people coming out of college with degrees. I see why people think it's important, but I don't think it says anything about the quality of a person's work.
  6. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    Not having a degree hasn't hurt me one bit in this business.
    But this is a different world than when I started in 1969. Now, you probably can't get hired at my paper without a degree.
  7. MU_was_not_so_hard

    MU_was_not_so_hard Active Member

    For the most part, I don't think degrees mean much. Like others have said, a lot of underqualified people do havea college degree.
    At the same time, I go back and forth on it when it comes to management. While experience is key, the ability to get through college shows qualities of persistence and getting through less than desirable times.
  8. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    I don't think it's necessary to have degree, and it probably won't immediately make someone a better journalist. But I bet it certainly helps to land the first job -- and it might be the tiebreaker between applicants for your first couple years.
  9. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    I think the question of "a degree" is kind of beyond the point. It's not the degree that makes the difference, it's the kind of experiences those four or so years in college that help shape the person that makes "the degree" valued. Four years of experience with no degree is better than no experience and a degree, but generally, I think five years of experience with degree is an equal match with nine years experience and no degree. But it depends on the person.
    I spent eight years in newspapers before I completed my degree. I knew I could keep doing what I was doing without it, but I was pretty sure I didn't want to keep doing what I was doing.
  10. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Sure, if you have the kind of college experience that "shapes" you. Some people get nothing out of it, for one reason or another. Hard to say that the "value" of the college experience is the same for everybody.
  11. Flying Headbutt

    Flying Headbutt Moderator Staff Member

    Some of the best people I've worked with didn't have a degree. Experience trumps everything else. Though as someone else mentioned, it also helps to have one for when you look for other kinds of work too.
  12. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    I think if you want to get into an editorial track, you need a degree of some kind. You certainly don't need a degree in journalism, but you should have a degree in something.

    If I were a hiring manager looking purely for someone to take up a reporting position, I'd expect at least an associate's degree, although I'd say a bachelor's would be ideal. But even if your degree is in electrical engineering or somesuch, if you're a good journalist, you're a good journalist. If you can turn a phrase and get me the story, I find that more important than a piece of sheepskin that says you went to the Really Big J-School Factory That Spits Out Fabulous Grads.

    I like having some kind of evidence that you have a well-rounded education and a basic curiosity about the world around you. Not having anything beyond a high school diploma doesn't show me that.

    That said, the experience factor plays more of a role for me. The best degree in the world doesn't mean jack shit if you don't have a single clip worthy of sending along. If you have strong clips and a work history that tells me that you're willing to accept feedback and implement it, it will carry you farther than a 4.0 in biochemistry any day of the week.

    Granted, there are other factors at work, too. How you fit into the workplace culture plays a part. If I don't get the sense that you can work with the people at the newsroom, you don't have a chance in Hell.
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