More Journalism Majors Is a Good Thing

Epsom College main buildingCatherine Rampell writes in The Washington Post today about the changes in college majors over the last 40 years, and among the interesting findings is that degrees in communications and journalism are way up, but math majors are down. She makes the point (correctly) that this is fairly dumb, given the job prospects. I agree: As far as I’m concerned, everyone who isn’t a comp sci major at this point obviously doesn’t care about getting a job. That’s where all the jobs are, where they’re throwing money at new grads, while basically everyone else moves back home to their parents’ basements.

That said, I’m actually heartened to see that people are getting journalism degrees. As a society, we need more people with journalism degrees. If job prospects weren’t an issue, I’d say that everyone should get a journalism degree. We’re all journalists, to some degree, on the Internet. We make decisions constantly about whether to repeat or repost information, decisions that would be made a lot more responsibly if everyone had to study media history and law. I miss the days when only (well, mostly) trained journalists gave us our news, not because I’m some kind of J-school snob (though I did pay a ton for my own degree from Northwestern), but because journalism training is truly worth something. Remember when all that misinformation spread after the Boston Marathon bombings and after pretty much every mass shooting in recent years? That’s bad journalism compounded by Internet sharing and message-boarding.

Will all those journalism majors get great, full-time, well-paid jobs with benefits? No. But we still need more of them. And that’s the problem with the media and the state of journalism in a nutshell.

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