Members of the media have been questioning the place of journalism graduate education as stepping stone to a journalism career.
For instance, New York Times columnist David Carr recently called a journalism degree an “escalator to nowhere,” and Crain’s New York Business reported that between 2003 and 2012, Gannett Co., who owns several local newspapers, television channels and USA Today, cut more than 20,000 employees.
Also, according to mediafinder.com, 23 magazines launched in the first quarter of this year, while 44 magazines were launched in the same period last year.
New York City is home to a number of popular journalism schools including Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism and NYU’s own journalism institute.
Despite the decreased launch numbers, graduate programs are showing high success rates.
NYU’s business and economic reporting program has a success rate well above 90 percent, and of CUNY’s 2011 class, 92 percent of the 85-person class in 2011 are employed full-time, freelancing or working at paid internships.
NYU journalism professors argue that journalism is not declining, but rather shifting away from traditional platforms.
“Journalism is going through a period of rapid technological change, but people still want to know what’s going on in the world,” said Meryl Gordon, director of magazine writing at the NYU journalism school.
Gordon added that the magazine writing program at NYU has added videography and social media classes to enhance students’ versatility and storytelling abilities.
Perri Klass, the director of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at NYU, said a graduate degree in journalism is still useful today because it teaches valuable skills needed to work in such an evolving field.
“We take a lot of time and trouble making sure that all of our students learn some of the digital and multimedia skills which people need to operate in the new journalism universe,” she said.
Some students who have graduated from journalism schools find the programs beneficial because they help them network and make long-lasting connections.
“I had no journalism experience before I went to journalism school. Not only did I learn the basics, I also made invaluable contacts that are still helping me to this day,” said Alyson Krueger, who graduated from NYU’s journalism school in 2011.
Krueger has been published in The New York Times, Wired, The Village Voice and The Jewish Daily Forward.
Also, although journalism schools like NYU’s journalism institute encourage internships and on-the-job experience, professors emphasize the importance of the classroom as a laboratory.
“The wonderful thing about a graduate program is that you get to do everything yourself and produce a major piece of journalism,” said Marcia Rock, director of NYU’s NewsDoc program.
Students agree that the journalism school’s curriculum is field-based.
“NYU’s program is very hands-on, which is important, because journalism is a hands-on profession,” said graduate student Anders Melin, a first-year graduate student in the business journalism program who is also pursuing an MBA.
Melin admits that the academics can be difficult to manage on top of in-the-field experience.
“It is frustrating and sometimes mentally draining to juggle everything, but I think it’s also crucial to master that way of working,” he said.
Moreover, especially at NYU, a journalism degree can be a significant financial commitment.
“I have a lot of friends who had thought about becoming journalists and going to journalism school, but economically it didn’t make any sense,” said Jenise Morgan, a first-year graduate student in NYU’s news and documentary program. “[But] I believe in making the investment,” Morgan said.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, April 15 print edition. Tanay Hudson is a staff writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.