The journalism industry might not be dead, but if the Board of Trustees and university president approves it, the famous Indiana University School of Journalism will be.
IU Provost Lauren Robel recently approved plans to merge the nationally-renowned school of journalism with the telecommunications and communication and culture departments. The absorption of the journalism school in the College of Arts and Sciences would mean more than journalism students losing their building.
It would be a loss of a one of the best journalism schools in the country, a loss of journalistic independence and a loss of history.
But, according to IU President Michael McRobbie in a July interview with the Herald-Times, “There’s no point in saving a school that trains people to manage fleets of horses if the motorcar has taken over horse-drawn transportation.”
The headline on the story is "Journalism Is Not Dead, It's Changing," which is true but not that comforting a though to those of us still in the business. Did people in the horse-training business feel comforted by the idea that transportation was "changing"? Not unless they expected to be able to find a job in the motorcar industry.
Journalism will always be here as long as people want to know stuff they can't find out for themselves. What's not certain is whether mass-market journalism will survive as we know it. A lot of people involved in that enterprise will have as much trouble adapting to the new media reality as a horse trainer in the motorcar world.
In the Sunday Herald-Times, one of the issues being contested was that there would be fewer professors who actually had known their way around a newsroom, that there would be an emphasis on research, instead. Maybe they should require that, in order to graduate, you have to be able to type 100 words per minute on an ETAOIN SHRDLU keyboard.
You note that Ernie Pyle is moving in his grave, but that's perhaps because they'd be moving out of Ernie Pyle hall. Damn, we fought that war for nuttin?
They also objected to putting the School of Journalism in the College of Arts and Sciences. I would think you'd have complaints on that from the COAS folks. It's a trade, not a liberal art. Journalism is something that you give away in order to get people to consume the advertising that's at the real heart of newspapers and broadcast news. The folks in the music department would ptobably recoil no more at the professor playing piano in a cat house than the Tolstoy and Chaucer fellers would welcome Dear Abby and Dick Lugar, that new educator in the journalism school.
Wouldn't it make more sense to put trade schools under Ivy Tech instead of Indiana? Or at least Purdue, where the engineers train. And cosmeticians, surgeons, too - those being trades where you work wit your hands, rather than dispensing advice as those who profess expertise in their particular field of study?