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Debating the Future of Journalism School

University of South Florida

With non-journalists like Amazon founder Jeff Bezosbuying the Washington Post and Red Sox owner John Henry buying The Boston Globe, more questions are being raised about the importance of a journalism degree for a career in news media.

It's a debate that's raging at universities and in newsrooms across America.

And Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute's "Sense-Making Project" said a recent survey shows a continuing divide between educators and professionals about the value of journalism school in the digital age.

"We revealed the results of a survey last week that asked that asked journalism professionals and journalism educators how important a journalism degree was," explained McBride. "And what we found was a huge gap. Nine-six percent of the educators think a journalism degree is important. Fifty-seven percent of journalism professionals believe a degree is very or extremely important."

McBride said that people in the news business just don't think the people in the news education business are keeping up with the rapidly changing media environment.

"When you look at the journalism professionals, the reason that more of them don't value a degree is because there's this belief in the profession that the academy is not keeping up with the rapid changes," said McBride.

And it's not just a problem of journalism schools keeping up. McBride said it's also a problem that they are perceived as not being relevant.

"Yeah, and that was the point my colleague Howard Finberg - who actually led up this study - made at "A.E.J.M.C." which is the Association for Educators of Journalism and Mass Communications," said McBride. "It was at this conference that we revealed the results of this study and I was in the room when he said that, in fact, the perception is as much a problem as the reality. If people perceive that this degree is no longer valuable then it doesn't matter what the reality is. So perception is a huge problem and it may be that one of the things journalism schools are going to have to do is start marketing how they are relevant in today's world if they really believe they are."

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