Journalism students replace seasoned reporters

Seems like a good idea, until you think about it for more than 45 seconds:

These schools have for years operated internal publications and news services, and professional news outlets often buy freelance pieces from reporters who are still in school. So why not make more explicit arrangements to have journalism students, who will work for course credit, fill the gaps left by the pros whom the news outlets could no longer afford to pay?

That is exactly what a number of institutions have done. The latest partnership, announced this week, is an alliance between New York University and the New York Times, which cut 200 newsroom jobs last year. The university, in consultation with the Times metro desk, will run a hyper-local news site covering Manhattan’s East Village.

James and I touched on the subject of newspaper content in our first radio show, the gist being: When your budget forces you to thin your staff, how do you fill in the content gap the missing reporters and editors had previously provided?

Then again, outlets desperate to maintain a modicum of breadth can't be too choosy about who is giving them stories. “At this point, any way for news outlets to get more reportorial muscle on the ground is a good thing,” said Wemple.

Jack Shafer, media critic for Slate.com, cautioned against overvaluing experience — or even a journalism degree — in local news reporting. “I edited two alternative weeklies (Washington and San Francisco),” Shafer wrote in an e-mail, “and I’m here to tell you that some bright young things just out of college with no journalism education or experience can report and write great copy if an editor yells at them loud enough.”

If senior editors and business managers have learned anything from the Webolution, it is this: "Why pay for something if you can get it for free?"

The question is, how long will it take J-school students to figure that out? Will it be on graduation day, when they're getting ready to start paying down that $90,000 student loan, only to find that one of their underclassmen has taken their beat?

Comments

Meh. Just let the Legacy

Meh. Just let the Legacy Media die already! I don't buy newspapers, although I do pickup the free ones and I don't visit major media websites unless I'm following a link from a blog or twitter.

I prefer getting info from bloggers (even Blue NC). Most are politically biased sources of information, sure, but at least they don't hide it or try to pretend they aren't biased like the 'professionals' do. (I've covered a number of events alongside 'professional' journalists and have heard them mock and make fun of the people they are reporting on).

Thanks, TP

In addition to the various (Progressive) advocacy efforts presented here, we also try to bring focus to developing news stories and generate a dialogue on how they actually impact people. In a time when associated content is rationed out and duplicated ad nauseum to the MSM audience, the word "stale" comes to mind more often than "fresh".

But I do see some serious drawbacks to shit-canning the old media model, especially in the realm of newsgathering. It takes years to develop a strong enough sense of smell to detect some of the bullshit that permeates press releases and carefully-crafted statements. Before you can ask the hard questions, you gotta know which questions to ask, if you know what I mean.

There's more to creating news content than just good grammar and prose, and moving toward a less-experienced well of reporters is going to leave some stones unturned. And that is going to impact those of us in the blogosphere who attempt to refine stories of the day.

amen

Seems every newspaper has some slant to the news. I live in a small town and the local paper (part of a large chain) never prints anything critical of city or county government. All the local news in the paper is good but that's not really the case around here. They use cub reporters who are here for a few months before moving on. Hard to trust any media reporting this day and time. Everything has a spin - even my head.

What an odd death rattle

News companies are firing good reporters to meet budget shortfalls; then getting free content from students that these news companies will never hire.

I suspect journalism schools are next to be downsized, due to the precipitous decline in employment probabilities.

J-schools already are

J-schools are accelerating their full-fledged gallop into other "related" professions, most notably focusing on degrees in public relations, multimedia production, health communications, etc. The number of students in professional journalist tracks is shrinking fast.