A university’s role is supposedly to prepare its students for the “real world”. As in any preparation, disparities between the two worlds could appear. Skills taught by the university and those needed by the industry may not often coincide perfectly. Here are some of my thoughts on classroom teachings vs industry expectations in the journalism career.
Journalism school taught me to cover today’s event and submit an output “next week” (though I learned how to cram them a day before the deadline, too) whereas the media industry expects us to pre-write the known facts and beat the now deadline. A practicing journalist friend was even writing obituaries of (who I assume to be) healthy personalities just in case. This was a norm in the modern we-must-be-the-first-to-break-the-news world of media, I was told.
In this each-journalist-by-himself industry, practitioners are also expected to find, choose, gather and even scrounge or sniff for news and information. We protect our sources and contacts not only from possible harm but from fellow journalists who threaten to vanquish our hopes for a scoop. In the comforts of our journalism classes, however, friends, classmates or blockmates are allies – allies who would accompany you through newsgathering legworks, verify your data when you can’t make sense of your own handwriting, and send you interview transcriptions (though sometimes they ask you to transcribe as well). We are spoonfed with event details – when, what, where to cover well ahead of schedule. No breaking stories, no sir. No nosebleed, finance/economics-related or technical/scientific issues either, nope. We’d all just rather do a story on an academic forum, thanks. 🙂
Except for relentless feedbacks from a few professors who are revered for their greatness but avoided by “grade conscious” students, journalism school does not prepare a student, emotionally, to handle strict editors or audience feedback. Nope, no threats of losing your job and no editors hanging around your shoulders reminding you to submit your article NOW.
What journalism school did develop in me, however, was a sense of responsibility in news reportage and the needed skills to critically analyze and report data – not just as he-said-she-said. We are constantly reminded to provide accurate facts, meaningful context and the issue’s significance to our audience. We were also taught how to make the most ethical judgment possible in a given situation (though still in a classroom setting… but at least!) and were encouraged to stand by them.
Though journalism school* churns out idealistic fresh graudates, it does not teach us all of the skills the industry expects us to acquire before we obtain a diploma. What it does give us, however, is the drive to survive the “real world”. Heck, we’ve survived X years of UP Journ. We’ve come a long way and we’ve still got a lot to learn.
Amid the discrepancies in what journalism professors teach and what the media industry expects, I realize that there are just things I can only learn by facing the harsh realities of the “real world”.
*specifically referring to the UP Journalism curriculum, as I am not familiar with journalism programs of other universities.