Saturday, February 03, 2007

I'm glad I started when I did...





Venn diagrams. IMC integration. Optional DC quarter for broadcasters??? My response to this is a loud and resounding: PHOOEY.

"All of our students will learn how to tell stories across all the media platforms - print and digital - with words, with audio, pictures and video, and that will prepare them for whatever form that takes in 2010, 2015 and 2020," John Lavine noted in a recent interview with Chicago Tonight.

Well, that's fine and dandy. But here's some insight from the other side of the fence... that is to say from the perspective of someone whose pocketbook is taking the fall for your poorly implemented vision.

I am here so you can teach me to tell stories. Instruct me on the nuances of lead-writing. I am paying almost $70,000 to work in a fully equipped FUNCTIONAL newsroom that mimics the environment that I will enter upon graduation. That is to say, THIS JUNE.

I am NOT here to be your guinea pig. For you to cheapen the value of my Masters degree because it has not occured to you that twelve months isn't long enough for us to cater to your revolutionary whims. I am smart and capable woman who is doing all she can to keep up with learning the ins and outs of the broadcast industry, and you want me to burden myself with marketing classes which serve no other purpose than to dilute the integrity of my chosen profession?

If I may be so bold as to speak for the fall-start students, they are not here to purchase prescribed equipment that will be utterly useless upon graduation. Whose bright idea was it to have broadcast students buy video cameras that produce images which cannot be used for television?

It is important to teach us about the things that are immediately relevant to our careers and prepare us for innovations to come. But don't take a focused 12-month graduate program with one of the best reputations in the industry and deconstruct it into shallow interpretations of topics not immediately relevant. Because if you do, it all adds up to one thing: rubbish.

TB

8 Comments:

At Saturday, February 03, 2007, Anonymous TB said...

My link didn't work. You can find the Dean's interview at:

http://www.medill.northwestern.edu/medill/inside/news/dean_lavine_addresses_the_future_of_news_on_chicago_tonight.html

Also see Amy Gahran's thoughts about how J-schools aren't doing enough to teach new media to students. Obviously, I'm not down with what she has to say, but I'm interested in seeing how others respond to her article:

http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=31&aid=117833

 
At Saturday, February 03, 2007, Anonymous cy said...

TB, I agree that current students are suffering because of a poorly implemented plan. I think it has good goals, but even the instructors aren't really sure what's going on, which disturbed me quite a bit last quarter.

I'm even more disturbed that with all this "stuff" that they're trying to incorporate now, they tell us we need to purchase all these pieces of machinery without telling us what they're for. Being the anxious person I am, I wanted to have everything I needed before I arrived at Medill, only to find that half the things I bought I didn't really need. I used my video camera maybe once. I bought an Ipod when I could have purchased something much cheaper for voice recording. It's just ridiculous.

And quite honestly, the multimedia sessions we had last quarter were the most useless things ever. I went because I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything, but the only helpful things that came out of them were the handouts. Sure, some of us may not be as technologically saavy as others. But I think those sessions should be optional. I could have spent my time doing more reporting.

I could go on and on about Medill 2020. But I think the plan is just making it tougher for entering students to transition from quarter to quarter. We all know that from what we're seeing of my poor fellow Methods students who are struggling in Broadcast Production.

J-schools offer a lot to students but of course, many things can only be learned on the job. And I have found that most people in the biz will advocate the path that they took, whether it was to go to j-school or to start at the assignment desk.

Sorry... long comment. =P

 
At Sunday, February 04, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

I am curious to learn how students felt when Medill's broadcast program became part of the grad j-school curriculum? Did they also feel the strain of transition? I, too, am not happy with what's happening and I commend the profs who put in the effort and time to teach the traditional medill methodology that first attracted me to the progam.
TB, you are right in your thinking...we will probably be the last graduating class to have taken full advantage of the pre-packaged broadcast program. We are also one of the final classes to have had the honor of working with some very talented, very dedicated professors who have chosen (or who were told) to leave Medill. This program will never be the same and I hope that the changes--in the long run--will have been "for the greater good."

ER

 
At Sunday, February 04, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with ER. The professors have been wonderful to the students and patient, and I have really learned a lot from each of them.

I also agree with CY. I think the goals are good, but the execution is so poor. I couldn't believe how disorganized our Methods quarter was. But I turned a blind eye to it. I also feel sorry for the students who had to spend all of this extra money. I don't think that was ethical. If the administrators want to experiment, then they need to dig into their own pockets to buy this equipment.

I do, however, think the Dean has an ambitous vision and I do agree with it. It's no secret that everything is going digital. Stars are now made on the internet, and the trend accessing news when and where you want is only going to get stronger as technology improves.

And incorporating marketing into the curriculum is completely relevant in my opinion. With the plethora of media choices, an organization has to choose an audience to deal with fragmentation.

Additionally our media is fueled by advertising, and the sooner we come to grips with the fact that our salary will come from Proctor and Gamble, the better equipped we will be for the roller coaster ride that awaits us in corporate media America.

And having the option of DC might not be a bad thing if the alternative helps the student with his/her goals. If I had the choice of staying in Chicago and doing more with webcasts, the Northwestern News Report and possibly some radio, I would have deinitely entertained the idea.

JK

 
At Sunday, February 04, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Sunday, February 04, 2007, Blogger Medill Media Watch said...

J-school should teach the nuts and bolts of storytelling, regardless of media. The technology changes weekly anyway. Gahran notes that the
"new technologies" J-schools are attempting to implement were innovative "several years ago"...

Duh. I think we're all young enough to get that, and quite frankly, to be able to adapt to the changing technology. This change isn't radical, it's the modern era - post 1990... when most of us were becoming tech-savvy tweens.

Medill's value-add should be to teach storytelling, fact finding and analysis that can then be tailored to fit web, newspaper, podcast, tv... and whatever else crops up over the next few decades... Because the STORY comes first, right?!

Dean L's 2020 blindsight, may be right in theory, but in practice I fear the classes behind us will suffer from shoddy execution.

Generalist of everything... Masters in nothing.

LT

ER- I absolutely agree with you about the professors. I feel honestly blessed to have worked with such dedicated, knowledgeable professionals... It's a shame if they're being canned. I have trouble seeing the Utilitarian end here.

 
At Sunday, February 04, 2007, Anonymous VLD said...

I wrote a long response and then accidentally deleted it. Ugh.

The jist was, YES. I have been disappointed again and again by everything Medill EXCEPT our faculty and staff.

JP, I hope you'll permit a discussion on Medill 2020. Like to hear your opinions.

 
At Friday, February 09, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Svengali Lavine needs to go

I'm an alum. I clamor for the days when Ken Bode presided over Fisk Hall. Yeah, some newspaper folks didn't like him for shafting the placement director John Kupetz, but he put a rock-solid wall between IMC and Journalism. Hey IMC , remember what put Medill on the map?? Journalism! Not direct mailings!

Medill does journalism well. Don't let this guy sully Fisk Hall. Make you sure your views are known. I'm spreading the word about what's happening to my fellow alumni. Keep fighting. Stay vocal.

 

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