Washington Secrets

J-school failure: Just 26 percent of new reporters have skills to do the job

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A journalism degree can cost nearly $100,000 for graduate students, but for many it's a waste of money because they are leaving school without the skills needed in the new age of digital reporting and publishing, according to a sweeping new survey of the industry.

The highly-regarded Poynter Institute, an international strategy center and leader in journalism education, found in their 2013 “Future of Journalism” study that only one quarter of journalism school students showed up on the job ready for work.

Asked to judge “the last person their organization hired,” just 26 percent of media professionals said “the person had ‘most’ or ‘all’ of the skills necessary to be successful.”

That poor assessment of journalism students by newsroom executives spread to their indictment of what kids are being taught today and also revealed a massive divide between industry officials and those in the education field who think they are doing a great job.

The study asked 1,800 educators, students and media professionals, for example, if even getting a journalism degree is “extremely” important to getting the skills of the job. The results: More than 80 percent of educators said yes, but just 25 percent of the newsroom executives agreed.

The professionals also condemned the J-schools, with nearly half — 48 percent — telling Poynter that schools aren’t keeping up with changes in the industry.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.
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