Missouri J-School Needs Some New Religion

Most people who go to journalism schools get degrees. At the Missouri School of Journalism you get religion.

I have nothing against Northwestern or NYU, Maryland or Cal. Those are all fine schools, but they are just that, schools. J-School at Missouri is like going to church every day, taking classes from the Pope and preaching the gospel. Missouri students don’t graduate, they get ordained.

Given all this, I nevertheless have learned to live with my alma mater’s lack of participation in citizen journalism. NYU’s Jay Rosen is the king of journalism blogs and does an amazing job. He’s so good it’s hard to believe he didn’t go to Missouri.

But what I can’t live with are stories on Missouri’s home page that are more than a year old. I can’t understand why the Dean (whose name is also Dean – trust me, that took a while to digest) doesn’t have a blog. And that’s assuming he knows what a blog is.

Missouri is the number one school in the world because of the Missouri Method – the belief that students learn by doing journalism rather than by talking about doing journalism. The Method is supposed to prepare students for today’s world, but Missouri is still stuck in the old world.

There are some distinct rays of light – Missouri Professor Charles Warner writes the Media Curmudgeon blog and teaches online courses for the school’s graduate program (he works out of New York, but I’ll take what I can get). And the My Missourian site, consisting of user-generated content, is a nice exercise in communal journalism.

Missouri, hallowed be thy name, it’s time to step it up and get with the new religion of journalism. God forbid the next generation of “cream of the crop” journalists graduate from some place like Ohio State, or worse, Kansas.

By the way, the religion thing I mentioned at the beginning? It’s not hyperbole; it’s ingrained in the school’s history. Rosen dissected the school’s Journalist’s Creed, written by founding Dean Walter Williams, as part of a lengthy yet insightful post about religion and journalism. Recounting a portion of the Creed, Rosen notes Williams’ “spiritual counsel to the secular press:”

“I believe that the journalism which succeeds the best–and best deserves success–fears God and honors man; is stoutly independent; unmoved by pride of opinion or greed of power; constructive, tolerant but never careless, self-controlled, patient, always respectful of its readers but always unafraid, is quickly indignant at injustice; is unswayed by the appeal of the privilege or the clamor of the mob; seeks to give every man a chance, and as far as law, an honest wage and recognition of human brotherhood can make it so, an equal chance; is profoundly patriotic while sincerely promoting international good will and cementing world-comradeship, is a journalism of humanity, of and for today’s world.”

A journalism of humanity, of and for today’s world.


One thought on “Missouri J-School Needs Some New Religion

  1. Thanks for the kind words. I agree with you about Jay Rosen’s Press Think blog–one that worships on the alter of ethical journalism. I also agree with you that the J Schoolneeds to get more involved in citizen journalism. My hope is that Pam Johnson, the new head of the Reynolds Institute will begin to push the Institute deeper into this movement and eventually take a leadership role in it.

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