When discussing college journalism in the U.S., the University of Missouri Journalism School, known as JSchool, cannot be overlooked. Founded in 1908 in Columbia, Missouri, JSchool was the first journalism school in the country.
JSchool has adapted quickly to the changing landscape of journalism by introducing curricula that incorporate new trends in readers and technology, even including drone journalism. Their education program also provides journalism training in radio, TV, newspaper, and many more, all of which produce news covering Columbia and are renowned media platforms in the area.
The Columbia Missourian, which costs 50 cents per copy, is part of JSchool’s newspaper training program. Students, usually sophomores or above, apply to participate in Columbia Missourian. As both a newspaper company and an education program, students must be enrolled in JSchool and have a GPA of at least 3.0 GPA out of 4.0 to apply. However, the paper is run independently under the Missouri Press Association, and has maintained strong readership in the area.
“I have read the Columbia Missourian since I was young,” said Lynn Reeder, a resident at Columbia, “Even though it is not written by professional reporters, the story coverage is of very good quality.”
Unlike the The Daily, Columbia Missourian does not have a student as editor-in-chief. As it is a part of their coursework, professors edit their articles and guide them on how to research and present information for readers. To maintain the paper’s independence and its values of accuracy, ethics, fairness, and honesty, the editor has tenure status at the university and cannot be fired for publishing a story that portrays the university negatively.
“We would resist any kind of control from above,” said Professor Mike Jenner, the executive editor. “The university has been pretty good about understanding that, and I think that has been established over the last hundred years. Since I’ve been here, I’ve not felt any pressure from the administration to cover a story, to avoid writing a story, or to twist a story to meet a predetermined narrative.”
The Columbia Missourian operates as a professional newspaper, with budget meetings each morning to review that day’s paper and plan the next. Professors’ comments on the articles help students improve their reporting and interview skills.
The budget meeting is held at 9:30 a.m. every morning, where students come to the lab and go over the web version of the newspaper with two professors.
“Columbia Missourian is both a newspaper company and a lab for students’ training,” commented Professor Scott Swafford, the Public Life editor and one of the discussion leaders in budget meetings. “Since we’re both, we help students learn what they did well and how they can do better in a more informative way by using actual articles written by the students and show how it can impact the community we are reporting for.”
The morning budget meetings are much like a free discussion where a professor pitches a question regarding the angle, quotes, and sources, along with other factors in the article and opens the discussion to all students. Through the process, the comments and tips provided by the professors combined with the passion and ideas of students, leading to continuous improvement and innovations for the newspaper.
“It is very helpful for me to get feedback directly from professors,” said Grigor Atanesian, an international graduate student. “The level of work is very professional and it will help me greatly in the future.”
The newspaper publishes 6,000 copies daily apart from Saturday. Although it has not faced a significant decline in readership, the newspaper is considering going fully online apart from its Sunday paper.
“We focus mainly on the web as most of our readers read the news online,” said Professor Swafford. “Only 1,000 subscribe to our print news while many more access through our web.”
Based on this, the budget meetings center on the online articles.
“I think that the one lesson [the journalism industry] has learned is that it’s not up to us, it’s up to the consumers to steer the consumption of news,” Professor Jenner said. “We need to experiment a lot, and we also need to recognize that many of those will fail, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try new things because if we find or create something that is a great success, it will be fabulous.”
Applications to Korean college journalism? - possible models and reporter’s opinion
Both papers have shown high level of self-acknowledgement, in both their strengths and weaknesses. With their high readership, The Daily Northwestern and Columbia Missourian continuously try to find new and innovative methods to maintain their relevance as an influential paper. When asked whether Columbia Missourian is fast to keep up with advances in technology, Professor Jenner was quick to answer that they need to be faster. The two newspapers’ clear and humble understanding of themselves fuel passion and desire to better advance themselves, creating a sustainable model for continuous development.
The two successful cases in the U.S. may not be a direct benchmark for Korean campus journalism, but their level of introspection can be taken into account for all newspapers. In addition, it is evident that technological advances are impacting the journalism landscape, especially college journalism, and so creating an active online voice may be vital for newspapers’ survival.