Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bono on PhDs

Mark Bonokoski opines today on J-skool faculty and the demand of universities for PhDs and colleges for Master's degrees for full-time teachers. Bono takes a shot at Conestoga College for requiring a Master's degree and a minimum of three years' experience to join its faculty, and he isn't qualified. He is right that people like him have a lot to offer students. However, there's more to being a professor than just standing in front of a class. You have to be a scholar contributing to the study of journalism. That means having the training to do work on issues like censorship, convergence, political economy, law and the many other issues that affect journalism.
Conestoga's request for a Master's is no big deal. Western and Carleton have been granting Masters degrees for many years. Many of the reporters on Parliament Hill have a Master's in Journalism. And Conestoga wants at least three years experience. Yes, that's not long enough. I suspect, however, either they have a candidate in mind or they'll hire someone with more than three years in a newsroom.
There are very few people teaching journalism in universities who have a meagre three years in the business. A recent job at Ryerson required not only a PhD but top-level recent experience. Bono says we were taught by great people at Ryerson, which is true, but many of them had been out of the game too long.
At Concordia, we have a faculty made up mostly of very seasoned, award-winning journalists. In fact, we're the only journalism faculty in Canada to have a Pulitzer Prize winner. And we have people who've held senior management positions in radio, TV and newspaper newsrooms. We also have a brilliant young scientist who holds a PhD in microbiology and is a specialist on ethical issues.
So, Bono, it's not that hard to get a Master's. You could do it in a couple of years and still hold your day job. A PhD takes longer, but it's worth it. It's not just four extra years of study. It's an entirely different type of academic training, one that comes in handy when doing journalism and teaching it.
So, Bono, consider the possibilities of lifetime learning. The Sun used to pay for continuing education. Don't blame journalism profs that you took a pass.
As for the "those who can't do, teach" bullshit. Our faculty could go into the Sun and make it a great paper again, both by writing and by coaching the staff, if Quebecorpse could afford us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Concordia is the only university that has a Pulitzer winner on its teaching staff? Check out Jeff Sallot (yeah him, formerly of the Globe), currently on the teaching faculty of Carleton University.

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