Sullivan: Fancy J‑schools are a waste of time

Blogger Andrew Sullivan, writing in an interesting piece for Time, says people need to thank bloggers for their role in contemporary journalism. The genius of blogs, he writes, “lies not so much in the bloggers themselves but in the transparent system they have created.” The blogosphere’s collective mind is a corrective one, he adds, and he seriously disses those who look down their noses at the “guys in pajamas.”

The critics of blogs cite their lack of professionalism. Piffle. The dirty little secret of journalism is that it isn’t really a profession. It’s a craft. All you need is a telephone and a conscience, and you’re all set. You get better at it merely by doing it—which is why fancy journalism schools are, to my mind, such a waste of time.
With respect to my friends who teach journalism, Sullivan makes an important point. The notion of the press as a profession really needs to go. Time spent “studying” how to put together a TV news story, for example, is time that could be better spent studying life. After all, how do we expect young people to report about life’s events if they don’t possess even a basic understanding of how things work?

When I was a news director, I actually gave precedence to those applicants with degrees other than communications or journalism. Give me a basic liberal arts education and a little passion, and I’ll show you a potentially good reporter. Other crafts require an apprenticeship before advancement within the trade. It should be the same for the news business.

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