Media Blog

Journalism Education in Action

I’ve spent a lot of time working with student journalists and other young people interested in reporting. My first piece of advice, if I get to them early enough, is always: Don’t major in journalism. Major in economics, history, linguistics, flute–anything but journalism. Undergraduate journalism programs are an almost universal disservice both to students and to journalism.

And here’s a nice little reminder of why that is.

The student newspaper at Northwestern University is questioning whether the dean of the journalism school made up a quote for a column that appeared in the school’s alumni magazine.
The quote offered a glowing review of an advertising class, something Medill dean John Lavine has pushed to more closely integrate with journalism classes at the school.
“I came to Medill because I want to inform people and make things better,’’ Lavine quoted the student as saying. “Journalism is the best way for me to do that, but I sure felt good about this class. It is one of the best I’ve taken.’’
David Spett, a columnist for the paper, said he contacted all 29 students in the class, and they all denied saying it. Lavine, however, told Spett the quote came from an e-mail from a student, the newspaper reported.
“We cannot be certain these quotes were fabricated,’’ Spett wrote. “But at the very least, I find reason to be suspicious.’’
Lavine could not be reached for comment. Northwestern spokesman Alan Cubbage said Wednesday he also had been unable to reach Lavine and said the school had no official response.

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