The Corner


Bad Journalism Starts in College

Why has journalism become such a putrid mess? One reason, argues John Miller, the long-time NR writer who heads Hillsdale College’s journalism program, is that many students graduate from college these days with weak educations — and not just those who’ve studied journalism.

In this piece published by the Martin Center for Academic Renewal, Miller makes his case. “The key to a good education in journalism is a good education in the liberal arts,” he writes. Unfortunately, “many colleges and universities have replaced the shared experience of a core curriculum in the liberal arts with job training and specialization.” Good journalists need to have a broad understanding of society and the way the world works, but depressingly few students graduate from college with anything approaching such an education.

As for college journalism departments, Miller observes that they tend to “overdose” students on courses while shortchanging them on the actual practice they need to become capable writers. Furthermore, Miller notes, “too many courses in journalism squeezes out courses in other areas, such as economics, history, and the sciences — all of them offering excellent preparation for careers in the media.”

All I would add to Miller’s piece is that a true liberal-arts education tends to make one intellectually humble after confronting many brilliant people who don’t agree. That would go far toward deterring the kind of “journalism” we see these days where the writer obviously believes it is his job to dictate to others how they must think.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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