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New report by President Lynch calls for rethinking journalism education

February 21, 2015

Stephens College President Dianne Lynch this week released a new report on the future of journalism education that calls on universities to make profound changes to make their programs more relevant in the era of digital-first media.

Lynch, founder of the Online News Association, was commissioned by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to conduct the report, thinking about what journalism students will need to know to be successful in the year 2025.

Lynch spent months interviewing veteran journalists, journalism educators, Internet entrepreneurs and those involved in media start-up companies.

The report, “Above and Beyond: Looking at the Future of Journalism Education,” calls for digital-first academic startups—educational equivalents of media counterparts. It also recommends creating a mission-specific accreditation process for programs that define as their core mission the preparation of 21st-century journalists.

The report comes as journalism programs and surveys show gaps between what educators believe are the most important skills for students and what students actually want and need to know.

“There is room in the academy for a more nimble, intentionally disruptive and hyper-professional journalism school,” Lynch said. “It’s not the answer for every institution, or the solution to every challenge in front of us. It is, however, a model that has the potential to upend some of the constraining operating assumptions of academia—about everything from scheduling and staffing to core curricula and learning outcomes—that contribute to the truly troubling current state of affairs.”

Lynch wrote an op-ed on her findings for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Read it here.

Prior to taking the helm at Stephens, Lynch was dean of the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College, and she has an extensive background in journalism and new media technologies. She studied the credibility of online news in the early years of the World Wide Web and is considered an expert on the news habits of digital natives—those who’ve grown up with the Internet. She’s also served as a member of the national Journalism Advisory Council for the Knight Foundation.

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