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### Revitalizing the Journalism Sector: Transforming Journalism Education to Shape the Future

Graciela Mochkofsky, the dean of the graduate school of journalism at CUNY, has put forth a proposition regarding the education of aspiring journalists. The headline reads: “A Potential Solution for the Ailing Journalism Industry: Offer Free Journalism Education.”

In an article for the New York Times, Mochkofsky highlights the repercussions of communities losing local news sources, emphasizing the correlation with decreased voter turnout, reduced civic engagement, and heightened government corruption. She draws a parallel between the indispensability of journalists and essential professions like nurses, firefighters, and doctors. Consequently, she advocates for the provision of free journalism education to sustain the presence of journalists in society.

However, there exists a more straightforward remedy than merely making journalism school tuition-free: phasing out journalism education altogether. While this may pose a challenge for journalism school deans, it could significantly benefit the industry. The concept of tuition-free journalism education primarily serves to align the cost of the educational product with its actual value.

Having extensive experience in local and hyperlocal journalism across various regions, I have never intentionally hired an individual with a journalism degree. In fact, pursuing journalism as an undergraduate major is deemed futile, with students potentially gaining more from studying alternative subjects like economics or literature. Graduate journalism programs also offer limited value, with prestigious institutions like Columbia primarily serving as platforms for networking and signaling. I have expressed similar sentiments in the past, suggesting that shutting down journalism schools could be advantageous for the industry.

The underlying issue extends beyond journalism education to a broader dilemma within higher education in the United States. The failure to differentiate between academic enrichment and vocational training perpetuates challenges within the media sector. Journalism schools exacerbate this situation by fostering conformity and serving as quasi-certification bodies, ultimately stifling innovation and driving talented individuals away from the field.

Historically, journalists were multifaceted professionals, engaging in various roles without the need for formal credentials. The emphasis on journalistic credentials has not elevated the profession but rather diluted its essence. The current landscape of journalism, characterized by uninspired content and a homogenized perspective, reflects the influence of journalism schools in perpetuating mediocrity.

While a liberal arts education holds intrinsic value, the practicality of such an education remains secondary. Universities should prioritize providing students with a well-rounded educational experience, irrespective of its direct vocational relevance. Not all individuals possess the aptitude or inclination for a liberal arts education; hence, vocational training may be more suitable for many.

Certain professions necessitate extensive education, such as medicine, law, and academia. However, journalism does not fall into this category. Practical experience and specialized training are more beneficial for aspiring reporters than a traditional journalism degree. Specialized programs focusing on relevant skills like data analysis or financial literacy would better equip journalists for their roles.

In conclusion, the emphasis on journalism as a field of study is misplaced. Students pursuing journalism degrees could benefit more from diversifying their academic pursuits to enhance their effectiveness as journalists. If universities continue to offer journalism programs, increasing tuition fees could deter individuals from pursuing a path that may not align with their career aspirations.