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Inside the Upheaval of Journalism

Reporters Look Back on 50 Years of Covering the News


Edited By Ted Gest and Dotty Brown

In the spring of 1969, 101 students received master’s degrees from Columbia University’s prestigious School of Journalism, where they had learned the trade as it was then practiced. Most hoped to start a career in newspapers, radio, television or magazines, the established forms of journalism of that era. Little did they realize how the news world they were entering would be upended by the internet and by the social forces that would sweep through the country over the next 50 years.

This book tells the story of the news media revolution through the eyes of those in the Class of 1969 who lived it and helped make it happen. It is an insider’s look at the reshaping of the Fourth Estate and the information Americans now get and don’t get—crucial aspects of the vibrancy of democracy.

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Chapter Twelve J-Schools: In the Wake of New Media


J-Schools: In the Wake of New Media


As the teaching of journalism has expanded and diversified in the last half-century, the Columbia University School of Journalism has been an unusual trendsetter. At a time when journalism education, when it is taught at all, is almost always at the undergraduate level and typically as part of a broader “communications” curriculum, Columbia’s journalism school since 1935 has taught solely on the graduate level and focused on preparing working journalists, not scholars of communication.

“Our school is different from 99.9 percent of the journalism schools in the United States.” Former acting dean Frederick Yu, who himself had a doctorate, uttered those words several decades ago.1 They resonate loudly today. Like so many venerated institutions, the Columbia University School of Journalism is larger than the sum of its parts. It derives its reputation less from the scholarship it produces—or even from the accomplishments of its graduates—but equally and more from programs ancillary to the educational mission of the school: the Columbia Journalism Review, the Pulitzer Prize (actually a direct offshoot of the main university), and a dozen other prizes. Columbia has been the convener of choice for important journalists. I believe that, more any other school, it has helped establish standards for journalism.

In the cruel cutthroat world of New York real estate, the clichéd watchwords are “location, location, location.” The J-School has benefited immeasurably from its location in New York....

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