So says the head of the Columbia Journalism School’s “Reporting and Writing 1” curriculum that covers the essentials of . . . well, what do you think?
Professor Ari Goldman was reacting heatedly to plans to include more digital components in his course. New York Magazine takes it from there:
“F**k new media,” Goldman said to his RW1 students on their first day of class, according to one student. Goldman, a former Times reporter and sixteen-year veteran RW1 professor, described new-media training as ‘playing with toys,’ according to another student, and characterized the digital movement as ‘an experimentation in gadgetry.’ “
“Goldman’s official take on the situation is considerably more measured, and he insists he is not against new media. ‘They need to know the ethics and history and practice of journalism before they become consumed with the mold they put it in, because the mold will change — the basics won’t,’ he says, explaining his outburst.”
I don’t disagree at all with Goldman’s conception of the fundamentals. I’ve often wondered how current and recent journalism school students have found the time to ground themselves that way while learning the tools of the trade, which consist of a lot more than the notepad and audio recorder I used most of my newspaper career. His kvetch resonates, to a point.
But to say that mastering multimedia and other skills is nothing more than “playing with toys” suggests that Goldman is more hostile to the world of “gadgetry” than he lets on. It’s not the tools, but what you do with them. This shouldn’t be hard to understand.
Columbia academic affairs Dean William Grueskin says of the revised curriculum, “Where the thinking needs go is from a skill set to a mindset.” This is certainly a big issue for mid-career journalists trying to add Web skills to their print repertoire. And the divisions that pervade the professional ranks are taking place on campus as well:
“We have, clearly, two camps: the new school and the old school,” says Duy Linh Tu, the coordinator of the new-media program and Grueskin’s right-hand man.
Either we figure out a way to blend in the new realities with the best traditions of journalism or we can forget about upgrading the profession for the future. That’s a rather important task that isn’t getting done anywhere fast enough — in the newsroom, on campus or among freelancers and journo-bloggers in their jammies.