It’s no secret that I didn’t get to take journalism in high school because my counselor wanted me to take more math and that having been victimized by the public education system I’m not as politically liberal as the stereotypical journalist.
I never took a journalism class, other than photography workshops I attended after I became a professional journalist. I didn’t think I would be accepted as a journalism major in college without any high school experience, and I wasn’t smart enough to realize I could have taken journalism at Grossmont Community College and transferred to a four-year school. I learned journalism by reading newspapers and also by reading about the famous fictional newspaper reporter Clark Kent.
Maybe I’m currently in the minority among journalists, but when publications seek writers in the future they may seek people like me rather than the products of journalism classes.
I don’t mind liberal media outlets. My belief is that every market should have at least one conservative paper and at least one liberal paper. That’s not job security for journalists; that’s my idea of a free press. Unless concessions are made by their allies the liberal media are on the verge of disintegration. I am not requesting that the liberal media perform honorable seppuku; their self-destruction method is more analogous to “hold my Starbucks’ latte and watch this.”
In an effort to allow more Latino and other San Diego State University students to pass the prerequisite for a journalism major, the university’s Journalism and Media Studies department reduced the passing score for the department’s “Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation” test in September 2019. The reduction in the passing score requirement does not change the department policy that a student who does not meet the major’s entry criteria can petition to become a journalism major, and the department’s fall 2019 actions also included the implementation of a free online tutorial to assist students in passing the entry test.
I’m not against immigrants becoming journalists – Clark Kent himself couldn’t have passed e-Verify – but readers demand certain standards. Lowering the passing standards for the test for journalism majors may increase the percentage of Latino students, but the professional-level newspapers who rely on quality to survive in the free market demand such accuracy and the lowered standards aren’t helping the desirability for these students at the professional level.
Not only does lowering the standards not help the potential journalists, but it also impacts the publications. If the journalism schools don’t produce suitable journalists, the publications will turn elsewhere, including to those snubbed by the traditional journalism education system.
The California State University system is also considering adding an admission requirement for a quantitative reasoning course for math or science. The addition of math and science requirements would be at the expense of vocational and performing arts electives. Since journalism is a vocational art elective, additional math and science requirements would force media outlets to recruit either people such as myself who became journalists despite rather than because of our public school education and have an ax to grind with the public school system or those who took journalism at private schools and have a private school mentality. While we’re contemplating whether the public schools could survive a hostile media, keep in mind that private schools advertise while public schools only place legal advertisements. As such, not only would providing vouchers for parents whose children are already in public schools be less expensive than a subsequent tax increase to fund education, but vouchers would also be better for media outlet revenue.
The additional math and science requirement which would result in fewer students being able to take a journalism elective would cause newspapers and magazines to seek journalists from other sources. Those who consider themselves victims of the education establishment would be the prime candidates.
If the public schools and the colleges don’t produce journalists, the publications will rely on those the education establishment has alienated. The liberal media must keep the education establishment under control to prevent an industry revolution.
Joe Naiman can be reached by email at email@example.com.