Thursday, March 15, 2007

Tensions and Aging Gear at Cal's "Extraordinary" J-School

By Michael Mechanic
Thu, Mar 15, 2007 at 3:28 PM

UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism has just released a report by an external review committee that spent several days on-site to scrutinize the program. It's a mixed bag. On one hand, the four reviewers, visitors from journalism programs around the country, call the J-school "an extraordinary institution" and praise the faculty warmly for their commitment. Outgoing dean Orville Schell is recognized for broadening the school's international presence and creating "an environment that fairly percolates with intellectual excitement."

On the other hand, it says the institution is at a crossroads, and hints that Schell may not be the most diplomatic of leaders. "There is tension between the faculty and the dean that is needless and counterproductive," the report states. "Faculty members spoke of a two-tiered system, one in which there are those who shoulder the heavy teaching load ... and those who are free to teach less labor intensive classes."

The reviewers also lament the presence of "aging and increasingly obsolete" equipment, which they say threatens the school's renowned television and documentary program. They scold the school for its lack of a full-time faculty member with New Media experience. Both represent definite negatives in a fast-changing media environment. You can read the full report here.

Oh, and full disclosure: I co-taught an advanced reporting class at the J-school last fall.

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