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Are Foundations Only Enriching Already Rich J-Schools?

An article at Inside Higher Ed has started an interesting discussion on the worth of journalism schools. Here is one example from Maria B. Marron, a journalism professor at Central Michigan University:

 …the ages-old debate about the value vs. non-value of journalism programs and arrived only at the conclusion, articulated by Alberto Ibarguen, that j-schools “ought to be real hotbeds” of experimentation, a sentiment Mindy McAdams echoes when she says, ”In the j-school, we can be visionaries.”

Then she argues:

Where are the Knight Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation when departments such as ours need them? It seems to me that their money is going to the already wealthy, to the Ivy Leagues and the flagship state institutions and to sessions engaging in needless dialogue on what Ralph Lowenstein’s headline suggests is “the ancient argument.”

Instead she says:

Many students at institutions such as ours work two and three jobs just to put themselves through college. Were Knight or Carnegie to provide grants enabling departments such as ours to fund students for employment in start-up, experimental online media, then our students may be able to (a) have more time to brainstorm for innovative ideas, (b) forego a part-time position at Applebee’s or McDonald’s for work in innovative campus media, and(c) have cutting-edge online skills when they graduate. Right now, the department is pinching pennies to facilitate a webmaster and students to develop an e-zine. Central Michigan Life, which on average has a student workforce of approx. 70 in all aspects of news editorial, photojournalism, advertising sales, and online, cannot accommodate all of the department’s interested majors and minors. But CM Life offers paid positions to students. The Department of Journalism, which lacks the resources to pay students for their co-curricular work, needs external funding if it is to offer increasing numbers of interested students additional and/or alternative opportunities in new media.

If Knight and Carnegie want to spend some dollars usefully, please consider contributing to programs with limited fiscal resources and passionate students and faculty in areas representing institutional, geographic, and other forms of diversity.

2 Responses to “Are Foundations Only Enriching Already Rich J-Schools?”

  1. Eric Newton Says:

    Knight Foundation already provides opportunities Maria seeks. The Knight News Challenge, at, is open to any university, student, professor, company, journalist or citizen who has a good idea about how digital innovation can improve news and information in specific geographic communities. We are giving out $5 million a year in this contest. To enter, all you need to do is go to the web site and fill out a simple form.

  2. Maria Marron Says:

    Eric seems to miss the point: It is impossible for smaller schools to improve news and information via digital innovation if the schools/students do not have the necessary hardware/software with which to innovate. Perhaps Knight could infuse smaller programs, i.e., less wealthy programs, with some capital to purchase the tools essential for innovation. Admittedly, it is laudable for Knight to fund MIT computer science/engineering graduates (offhand, I cannot remember which discipline) to pursue master’s degrees in journalism at Northwestern’s Medill School, and to fund a program originated at the already well-endowed Roy S. Park School, Ithaca College, among others, but what does that do for the smaller, less well-off programs that produce the graduates who fuel the industry, many or most of them in in diverse geographic communities, not necessarily in major media urban areas?
    Is this a matter of “have horse, get grass?”