RESOLUTION TO ESTABLISH A MASTER OF ARTS
IN THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM
WHEREAS, the Education Committee of the University Senate has favorably reviewed the proposal from the Graduate School of Journalism to establish a Master of Arts degree; and
WHEREAS, the committee is satisfied that the proposal has the approval of the faculty and deans of the Graduate School of Journalism, as well as that of the provost; and
WHEREAS, the complexity of the journalism profession makes it increasingly important that journalists possess specialized knowledge and expertise in the subjects they are covering; and
WHEREAS, graduates of the current M.S. program have expressed the wish to continue their education by delving more deeply into subject areas they plan or hope to cover in their careers; and
WHEREAS, leading figures in the field of journalism, including the Journalism School’s Board of Visitors, have urged the school to find ways better to prepare future journalists for covering the stories of the twenty-first century; and
WHEREAS, the proposed Master of Arts program would offer students wishing to continue their education a comprehensive menu of subjects about which journalists will be writing, to be taught in a manner that marries non-journalistic expertise to training in its application to work as a journalist; and
WHEREAS, the proposed program would provide valuable opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration between journalism students and students from other schools within Columbia University; and
WHEREAS, the Education Committee recognizes the commitment of the Graduate School of Journalism to ongoing collaboration with programs across the university in review of which elective courses will further the objectives of the Master of Arts degree; and
WHEREAS, the proposed program, which would apparently be unique to Columbia, has the potential to influence widely the field of journalism education;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that a degree program leading to the Master of Arts be established within the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, with the proviso that the committee will review the program in five years.
Recommendation of M.A. in Journalism: Report of the Education Committee
Graduate School of Journalism is proposing a new one-year Master of Arts
program to train students, as journalists, in a substantive understanding of a
subject matter that they might work on in their careers. The
The subcommittee has reviewed the
document, and following meetings with Dean
The rationale is solid and
substantive, arguing that in an increasingly complex world, journalists who can
master subjects and communicate effectively about them to the general public
are crucial to a democratic society. By
initiating this program, the
The proposed program includes representative syllabi that demonstrate appropriate graduate-level education.
While the program makes use of other courses across the University it does not duplicate or overlap with existing programs.
The subcommittee urged that specific courses to fill out the concentrations be identified, and the School of Journalism has followed up on this suggestion by meeting with representatives from various departments and/or units of the University where journalism students might be expected to select a concentration. The proposal includes information regarding faculty and staff that illustrates careful attention to our suggestions.
The program is being guided by Dean Lemann and its faculty includes distinguished scholars within the Graduate School of Journalism. Program seminars are all led by this faculty. The concentrations in subjects from across the University will be taught by distinguished faculty from across the University, many of whom have already been recruited and are listed in the proposal. The group includes an impressive array of scholars. A national search is underway for two additional faculty, who will assist with the program.
Attention has been given to appropriate measures of program evaluation.
The proposed program responds to a task force established by President Bollinger in 2002-2003 and has the advantage of monies set aside to support its initiation.
The subcommittee recommends approval of this program.
Graduate School of Journalism
This is a proposal for a new one-year Master of Arts program at the Graduate School of Journalism, which would focus on teaching future leaders in journalism about the substance of complicated subjects they might work on in their careers. The Journalism School’s founder, Joseph Pulitzer, wrote a kind of manifesto for the school in 1904, in which he said, “…in general university courses we may find by-products that would meet the needs of the journalist. Why not divert, deflect, extract, and concentrate them for the journalist as specialist?” That is the project the M.A. program would be taking on.
The Journalism School has been considering an M.A. program for several years. We received Academic Quality Fund funding from the Provost’s office two years ago to begin development of the M.A. Our effort was given greatly heightened importance and support with the decision of President Lee C. Bollinger to become personally involved in the question of the school’s future curricular direction. President Bollinger made it clear that central to his hopes for the school was a greater involvement of the students here in the intellectual life of the rest of the university. In aid of that effort, President Bollinger convened a distinguished task force of journalists, educators, and Columbia faculty from a variety of disciplines to discuss ways of achieving this goal. (Appendix A lists the members.) In a series of meetings, the Task Force discussed the state of journalism and of journalism education, and how Columbia could broaden and deepen the education of those entering the field. One of the members of the Task Force was Nicholas Lemann, who was asked to design a potential two-year program for the school, which was discussed at length at the task force’s meetings. President Bollinger then appointed Mr. Lemann as the school’s dean. At the end of the process, President Bollinger issued a statement of his views on the subject of journalism and education (Appendix B).
The M.A. program would not replace any existing programs; it would be an addition to what we do now. At present, the Journalism School offers, as its main academic program, a Master of Science degree, which most students obtain during one academic year; a Doctorate of Philosophy in Communications; and we operate five small dual-degree programs, two of which, in Journalism and Religion and in Earth and Environmental Science Journalism, confer both a Master of Science and a Master of Arts. The new Master of Arts degree in Journalism would be conferred after one academic year, and in most cases the students would have already received the Master of Science in Journalism at Columbia. It would be an optional, additional degree offered mainly to students who chose to extend their education at the Graduate School of Journalism by another year.
The main purpose of the program would be to train students, as journalists, in the substantive understanding of subject matter. The School of Journalism’s M.S. program offers concentrations in the types of news media; the M.A. program would offer concentrations in realms of knowledge. It would therefore draw deeply on expertise that resides elsewhere in the university, and would entail a good deal of academic partnership between the Journalism School and the rest of the university. The Journalism School would be starting the program in the belief that future leaders in journalism can benefit greatly from university training in the substance of the areas they plan to cover.
It’s quite common for journalism schools to offer curricular material on covering subjects, either in stand-alone courses or in joint and dual degree programs. Columbia Journalism School certainly does so, at a high level of distinction. What would be new in the program we are proposing, however, is the idea of offering students entering a program specifically for journalists a comprehensive menu of those subjects journalists might find themselves writing about that reward university-level training. Also new is the idea of teaching those subjects to journalists-in-training in intensive detail, and in a manner that marries non-journalistic academic expertise to training in its application to work as a journalist. No other institution has taken on exactly this project, so far as we know. Because of the prominent position Columbia Journalism School occupies, if the M.A. program is successful, it may widely influence the world of journalism education. Columbia belongs to a consortium of leading journalism schools created by the Carnegie Corporation that might serve as a specific conduit for the spread of our curricular ideas.
The M.A. program is needed because, in an increasingly complex world, journalists who can master subjects and communicate effectively about them to the general public are crucial to the best functioning of a democratic society. It will strengthen the profession of journalism for an institution of Columbia’s stature to educate such journalists, and to demonstrate, by starting the program, that it honors the principle that journalists should develop real expertise in the subjects they cover. We believe there is a market for such journalists, not only because news organizations need business reporters and science reporters and so on, but also because learning the process of learning about a subject in depth will stand a journalist in good stead over the long haul of a career doing many different things, including management of news organizations.
The impetus for this new program has come from many sources. Graduates of the current program have expressed disappointment that the demands of the one-year curriculum for the M.S. degree leave little or no time to explore the other offerings of the university, and have expressed the wish to continue their education by delving more deeply into subject areas they plan or hope to cover in their careers. Leading figures in the world of journalism, including members of the school’s Board of Visitors (Appendix C) have urged the school to find ways to better prepare future journalists for covering the complex stories of the twenty-first century.
Other institutions are also trying, in various ways, to meet this need. Most of them have taken the approach of combining basic journalism courses with electives in various subjects taken in other schools and departments of their universities. Graduate programs at Berkeley, Missouri, and NYU all do this, in slightly different ways. We are proposing something significantly different, and more ambitious. We are not aware of any other journalism school that offers a comprehensive subject-matter curriculum, one that spans all possible areas of journalistic concentration. And other programs do not attempt to devise subject-matter curriculum tailored to the needs of journalists and offered in a journalism school.