J-School, journalism, Columbia University, NYU

Is J-School Worth It?

Posted June 01, 2018
Share To

A recent article, published in the Columbia Journalism Review asks: "Do We Need J-Schools?"

Very much in keeping with the  'middle of the road, let's try not to offend anyone' school of thought, CJR presents all three points of view - Yes, No and Maybe.

I think this is what they call 'balanced' in the news business.

At any rate, as the CJR does not invite comments, I thought I would pen my own repsonse here.

So: Do we need J-Schools?

Answer:  No.

Any questions?

Disclosure:  I am a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism (class of 1983). I also spent 8 years teaching at the Columbia J School and another 8 years teaching at NYU's journalism department. 

During that time, I watched as tuition at both institutions skyrocketed to pornographic heights, and no one said a word.

Today, the 9-month program the Columbia costs $105,820.  Are you kidding me.  Also, CJS offeres a 2-year program, (which they did not offer when I was there), which costs a mind-boggling $216,928.

When I went to the J-school, tuition was around $12,000, which I thought was a lot of money. My first job out of school was with Channel 13, which paid me about $25,000 a year.  If the salaries of journalists rose at the same rate as the cost of J-School, then starting salaries at Channel 13 for Production Assistants would be about $210,000. Which it isn't. 

When I was teaching at NYU, (tuition about $92,000 a year, when you add in housing costs), I had a very popular class. In my last year there, I had 360 students in my lecture.

I used to start each semester by telling the students to leave the class, go to the bursar's office, get their money back. Then I told them to take the money, go to B&H Photos and buy a video camera.  Then get a plane ticket to someplace interesting and far away, like Africa or South East asia, with a departure date in a week.

I told them then to come back to me, and I would teach them enough to get started.  Then, take the camera, get on the plane and do as much video reporting as you could, and send me the pieces. I would comment and critique. It would be a much better education.

Few took me up on it, except the faculty, who threw me out.

No one likes someone who bites that hand that feeds them!

After I left NYU, my wife Lisa and I built and launched TheVJ.com (where you are now), an online film/video/TV/journalism school.

It only costs $14.95  a month. 

If there was every any business that was ripe for disruption, it is Journalism School. 


Recent Posts

What TV News Could Be
February 26, 2024

When television was invented in the 1930s, no one knew what TV news was supposed to look like. The medium had never existed before, and so, like Gutenberg half a millennium, prior, the first creators of TV news had to fall back on a medium with which they were familiar, and that was radio.

Maybe scary stories drive ratings… or maybe they don’t.

Time and time again the the question I am asked by people who want to make compelling videos with their smartphone is: “What do I do about audio?” The answer is pretty straightforward.

Share Page on: