Journalism School Applications Increasing

By Staff

April 1, 2009

Despite many newspapers across the nation downsizing or folding completely, journalism schools are becoming more popular than ever.

The Baltimore Sun [from an article originally located at,0,1464001.story] reports that the University of Maryland saw a 25 percent increase in applications for its graduate journalism program, while Columbia University's program saw a 40 percent increase. To meet demand, Columbia is planning to accept more students than usual.

The numbers belie the economic toll that the industry has been taking recently: As more readers and advertisers turn to the Web for news, print journalism has been cutting back significantly. This week, the Washington Post folded its business news into its front section, and some comic strips were cut from the print edition. Similarly, The Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News have slimmed down their publications and now only deliver to homes three days a week.

According to a tally maintained by Erica Smith of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on a blog called Paper Cuts, approximately 16,000 jobs were lost at U.S. newspapers last year-about half in newsrooms. This year, 6,800 more journalism jobs have been lost.

Regardless, students are not deterred. "Nationally, there's been a bump up in interest at a time when you would think that nobody would be interested in this major," said Richard Campbell, director of the journalism program at Miami University, who was quoted in Ohio's Oxford Press.

"All of the kids in journalism school still have idealized visions of journalism," explained Steven Overly, a Maryland junior and editor in chief of the school's student paper, The Diamondback, who was quoted in the Sun. "We've all seen All the President's Men and that's the journalism we fell in love with-the print paper, what we put out in high school, what we're doing now. And the idea that that might not be there is gut-wrenching."

With competition fierce for fewer journalism jobs, some schools are responding by revamping programs. Inside Higher Ed reports that Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism is considering integrating new media and business skills within its traditional curriculum for reporters in an effort to give graduates a better chance of success.

"Most journalism schools have a historical aversion to teaching the business of journalism," noted Bill Grueskin, the school's dean of academic affairs. "It, however, is incumbent upon us to show our students the [changing business] model. We're not trying to graduate people to work in ad departments but those who can talk to those in the ad department."

Nicholas Lemann, dean of the school, noted that despite the bleak economic outlook, journalism schools still have their place and offer their graduates an advantage in the job market.

"Now, it's actually easier to make the case for journalism school," he said, "because there's a more specialized set of skills that we're finding employers are looking for."

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