Throwing social media in j-school curriculum isn’t enough

It’s late on Sunday night before my flight out to Boston. I’m going to attend the AEJMC Convention for journalism educators, and I will be on a panel on social media’s role in the future of journalism with Dan Gillmor and Sandeep Junnarkar (filling in for Jeff Jarvis‘ last-minute cancellation).

I will be speaking to a host of journalism educators, and I am not going to waste this opportunity.

So just a few hours ago, we held a chat about what we, the journalism students already immersed in social media, wanted to tell these educators.

Read the full transcript here, but here’s a very brief summary:

  • Professors need to not only teach social media, but practice it. It is now their job to understand this.
  • The students are also resistant. Just because they’re young and on Facebook doesn’t mean they know social media.
  • There’s a lesson plan in comparing ethics policies, legal quandaries and best practices of news organizations using social media. Less emphasis on teaching the tools, more on teaching principles.
  • Students who know social media should become TAs or peer teachers, or help organize a bootcamp/BarCamp at school to teach both students and the professors about social media.
  • But, professors, please still keep hammering fundamentals. Don’t get lost in the latest buzzword. Everything taught about social media should point straight back to the basics.

But even after all that discussion, the most telling is the separate session that happened among three college journalism powerhouses (if you don’t mind me being so bold). Daniel Bachhuber, Greg Linch and Joey Baker from CoPress were particularly peeved at the idea that all it takes is a few social media courses to bring j-schools up to snuff.

What they want is a revolution. A radical dismantling of the entire structure and starting from scratch. Adding a class on Twitter isn’t going to cut it.

Read this, or better yet, download the podcast to hear for yourself. Also, read Daniel’s previous posts here, here and here on rebooting journalism education.

CollegeJourn had previously hosted a Bring-Your-Professor chat night, another must-read synopsis. It sounds like we might need another one. This time, will there be a single school out there who will listen?


Hoisting up some more links for your reading pleasure, thanks to comments from Daniel, Greg and Joey:

Greg Linch
Greg Linch

Hmm, the first link didn't work for some reason. Let me try again: Wanted: Resident Butt-Kicker (Thoughts on journalism education)

Greg Linch
Greg Linch

Ah, yes. I highly recommend all of Daniel's posts on education. A couple more choice links: Wanted: Resident Butt-Kicker (Thoughts on journalism education) Rich Beckman discusses how to reshape journalism education

Joey Baker
Joey Baker

Since we're sharing links… :) Vin Crosbie has an excellent post Anatomy of a 21st Century Media Executive that proposes for solutions for J school and Getting Journalism Education Out of the Way are great reads. I've got a lot more links saved on Publish2


As always with the internet, there's someone with all of the ideas I've ever had months before me who has presented them a lot more eloquently. I'd highly recommend reading Mark Hamilton's "Remaking Journalism Education: Some Thoughts." Good luck at the conference!


  1. [...] be sure to add to my RSS feeder. Her second post is about social media and how it must be integrated into journalism studies — not relegated to a separate class. She offers some wise tips to make this happen. I agree [...]

  2. [...] First, what I told the educators (in addition to the points in my last post): [...]

  3. [...] In August 2009, I had the good fortune of appearing on a panel at AEJMC with the likes of Dan Gillmor and Sandeep Junnarkar. Before the panel, I hosted a #collegejourn chat and asked participants what I should tell the room full of educators. Here are the key bullet points of what I gathered: [...]

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Come on over to the 21st Century. We have candy.