Friday, August 9, 2013

Future of Journalism Education

There's yet another honking fat study out today by Poynter about the future of journalism -- this one specifically about journalism education.  Read it. 

The lede for many is the difference between educators and professionals on how important they think a journalism degree is when it comes "understanding the values of journalism."  While 75.41 percent of educators said it's "extremely important," only 27.90 percent of professionals said so.  First, Poynter dudes ... you do not report numbers at the hundredth of a percentage point.  That's called false precision.  Second, what did you expect?  It's news that people who teach in a field are more likely to think their work is important to understanding the values of that field, perhaps more so than professionals?  And the underlying assumption here is that it's the educators who are wrong.  Finally, this would be more meaningful if put in comparison to some other professional field such as Pharmacy.  Are there "values" in Pharmacy?  Pretty sure there are, but I wonder if the softness of the word "values" would pop up differences as well.

Sorry, those of who do research for a living, we get kinda snippy about research.

All of us in j-education know about these struggles, and we're all trying to shape our curriculum in ways that'll be relevant.  I don't know of any program not doing that.

The second big difference I see is on whether a journalism degree is important in "abilities in news gathering," with 80.9 percent of educators saying it's "extremely important" and 25.0 percent of pros saying so.  I dunno about this one.  I've taught a lot of non-journalism students some of the basics of journalism and believe me, they know nothing about the values of the field or how to gather news.

If there's a j-bubble, I'm wondering if the authors here are identifying the correct location of the bubble.

Lemme stop here because this is an extensive paper with lots of good stuff and points to make about the academy keeping up with industry changes.  Ironically, the academy has been using the Internet a long time before the pros knew what the hell the Internet was, but that's beside the point (I went online for the first time in 1987, you newbs, and there's damn little -- legal or otherwise -- I haven't done there).

I do survey research.  Hell, I specialize in survey research, and often on this blog I take apart studies to point out theoretical or methodological flaws.  This is an online survey, best I can tell.  That alone comes with lots of problems -- far too many to recount here.  You can see the first screening question that categorizes your responses and, I suspect, assigns some specific questions.  I did find this:
With more than 1,800 responses, equally divided between professionals and academics, there is still a wide gap — more than 40 points — between the two groups of survey respondents.
And that's about it on methodology ... so far.  I don't know about the makeup of the pros and educators.  Are they representative?  Is it possible to repeat participation in the survey?  Still, it's a nice N, with about 900 on each side.  But in surveys, children, size does not matter.  It's the quality of the sample that matters, and here we can't judge much at all.  Could be only pissed off pros participated, or whiny academics, or Chinese hackers.  I'll look harder for more info like this, because it's kinda important.


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