A journalist or an academic?

“Journalism education has ended up as neither fish nor fowl; it feels itself unloved by the industry and tolerated, barely, by the academy”. This quote from the article ‘What is journalism? Professional identity and ideology of journalists reconsidered’ by Deuze (2005) strikes an interesting resemblance with the state of mind of most students of the master’s programme of Journalism of the University of Amsterdam.

Usually, when studying for a master’s degree, you’re trained as an academic. What are you trained for when you do a master’s degree in journalism?

This is what the website of the study programme states: ‘Scholarly journalists are capable of quickly analysing complex problems, and translate these problems in a journalistic product that is accessible for a broad public’. That sounds like a pretty practical education goal to me.

More than two hundred students try to make it to the selective master’s program. Why? Because if you want to be a journalist, this is the way to go. This is how you get a internship at a big newspaper like NRC. If you don’t have a university degree, you don’t have to try.

When you talk to older journalists, many of them started in a different way. A lot of them don’t even have a bachelor degree. They started out as a journalist-in-training, when they were 18 or 19 years old, at the local newspaper, and worked their way in the industry.

There is a lot of focus on diversity in newsrooms (and there should be). But most of these discussions are about ethnic or cultural diversity. Is it not a problem that the diversity in education level is decreasing?

Bibliography

Deuze, M. (2005). What is journalism? Professional identity and ideology of journalists reconsidered. Journalism, DOI: 10.1177/146883859392002

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