Are today's journalism students tomorrow's blacksmiths?

I am a proud alum of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. I consider the Masters degree to be the turning point. When I got accepted to the prestigious institution, I sensed that I had turned a corner and that I could eventually go on and make a career (i.e. get paid) to write articles.

But I wonder if today’s journalism-school graduates have the same sense of excitement and hope.  Do they worry more about the economics of their chosen profession than about learning how to do the job well?



his is a sub-set, but a vital one, of the larger picture of whether the journalism industry is still a viable destination? It is a strange situation when so many layoffs occur to seasoned and well regarded professional, simply because they are deemed to be making too much money.

I suspect that plenty of journalists are being squeezed out of their jobs because their cash-strapped employer figures he or she could dump the veteran and hire two or three younger people in the same salary slot.

Why isn’t that a great plan? Well, you get what you pay for.


I was interviewing a journalism professor at a top school not long ago and he confessed something to me that I found extraordinary. He said:

“I’m feeling guilty because I don’t know if we’re preparing these students of ours for their lives. Are we merely training a generation of blacksmiths?”


It’s a fair point. Universities charge students (well, their parents, in a lot of cases) huge sums of money for the privilege of learning’s the ABCs of reporting, writing, editing, ethics and the nuances of new media.

Then, when the young people are armed with this knowledge, what do they have to show for it if they can’t find jobs in the media?