Monday, October 10, 2005

J school problems explained

Allright, I think we've hit the right note here with all disgruntled 2nd year students. Good, I'm not the only thinking this year will be less than productive. We are all complaining, but I think we haven't actually spelled out exactly what is wrong with the program and how it can be changed. This is just a shortlist, to be expanded and revised. Maybe we can get something substantial from all Con U students and then present to the admnistration.

1.There is not enough hands-on classes. The profs encourage us to "go out into the world" to get articles. But, really, looks around, how many classmates even bother doing this?
Sure you have TV and radio worshops (which help), but nothing for print? Why?

2. No classes on interviewing. (????) I am baffled by this; how can you expect us to get good information if we don't know how to ask?
Last year, I was stumped by one interview. I was talking to a Rwandan refugee, given refuge and schooling in Canada. I was eager to ask him what it was like in Rwanda and how he got here. I asked him "Is your family still in Rwanda?" He asnwered sharply, "No, they died of disease on the side the road while fleeing." Then he closed up, answered my questions by yes and no....

You can imagine my disappointment - how was I supposed to get him to open up? How do you ask these hard questions? No one has told me yet.

3. Reporting methods class (business and crime reporting) is not teaching us anything - a stupid repeat of Writing and reporting. Frankly what we have learned so far could have been resumed in one class. How many times is the teacher struggling to fill time?

4. The need to have proper access to classrooms and editing suites AT THE BEGINNING of the year. Not four weeks into the program (oh, I know the administration was just too busy getting ready for the party for the alumni for the 35th anniversary of ConU's J School - I see the priority). By the way, I went to the security office to get a swipe card, waiting 15 minutes and no one was around to help me. So no swipe card yet...

5. Less theoretical classes (shall I mention Turning points again?)- I know we need to get credits to graduate, but for god's sake, find something new. Let's stop looking at the past and look to the present, se what is good, what is bad in journalism and then try to improve it. Isn't that our job?

6. We have no J School radio, no J school TV show, no J school newspaper/magazine...A prof told me, the reason is that no one really wants to take the time to organize it. Well, J School, Sikander set up a blog in no time and we write a few tidbits whenever we can - maybe the school could have set up a blog for students? A message board? Oh, maybe they're afraid of what we have to say about them.

7. Why don't we have guest speakers? When I was at McGill in physiology, every Friday afternoon, there was either a guest speaker or a discussion about a topic pertaining to Physiology. Why not have this a the JSchool. I can guarantee students would love to pick the brains of brilliant journalists.

That's it for now, but keep the list going...I'll start another post later about what can be done to improve the school. I don't only want to complain.


Anonymous wendy said...

I know others have brought this up, but I think it bears repeating: Why not give us more chances for the work we produce in certain classes to actually be aired/published? CASE IN POINT: ADVANCED RADIO. We spend SO much time putting those broadcasts together. CJLO is looking for content. (at least, I assume the prospect of A DAILY NEWSCAST would appeal to A RADIO STATION.)

Concerning the print angle, Ryerson's magazine students actually put together a publication that gets printed and distributed at the end of the year. I've read some of their issues, and the quality is right up there with anything you'd find on the market. I'm sure Concordia's students could produce something of the same calibre, given the resources. Phil already brought this up last year, and the faculty's response was that they're "working on it." We should keep pushing. The more student interest that is shown, the more incentive the faculty has. And then we can show them that we ARE willing to organize this stuff.

I'm not knockin' the student papers or any of the other outlets we currently have, but a magazine format would give us the chance to really immerse ourselves in a longer feature piece.

There's a real skill to effective interviewing, especially when you're dealing with people who've been "groomed" to deal with the media,

So don't even get me started on how confused I am that someone like Peter Downie, who built his reputation on his mad interviewing SKILLZ, who worked alongside the GREATS like Peter Gzowski and Barbara Frum, hasn't given us ANY instruction to this end. From what I see in the course outline, it doesn't look like "How to Yell At Cabinet Ministers 101" will be part of the curriculum at all this semester. Hmm...

Here's an idea - rather than spend thirteen weeks on copyediting (something even the person who TEACHES that course agrees is a tad superfluous), how 'bout a course on interviewing?

2:53 PM  
Blogger Webs said...

1. I have a publishable story idea for a team of students. They would have to stake out a park in NDG from 9-12 every weekday morning - which is tough with the class schedule. But a team might manage it.

2. I'm teaching Online Publication next semester. Take the opportunity to help me mold the course from a blank slate. It'll be the first time I teach it.

3. In your point 5, it should be "fewer theoretical classes", not "less theoretical classes". :)

6:11 PM  
Blogger Sikander said...

Hi Mr. Nyveen,

Welcome to the Pod! Can you please email me the story idea through the email link in my profile? Thanks.

I'm big on thinking outside the box. It would be nice if students can be asked to look at what's out there right now in the online publication world, and then think about what's missing. Then work on filling the hole.

Personally, I sense a void in local English news online. I wanted more information on that overturned truck a few days ago, soon after it happened, without going to radio or TV. I didn't get much, to say the least.

Apart from the Gazette's full-length articles (many of which need subscription) and the CBC's online-style stories, there isn't much out there. CJAD and 940 both offer their on-air scripts and wire stories.

I feel there is room for competition and an alternative view. Who better to do it than journalism students?

Just as there are teams working on newscasts for advanced radio, it may be worth looking at something similar for online publication.

Just my 2 cents.


11:56 AM  
Blogger Sandra Pavlopoulos said...

Hi webs (aka Mr. Nyveen),

Thanks for your interested in the Pod.

I am very interested in your NDG story idea - pls send details to

If you're talking about Jour 428, I'm taking it next semester. I really enjoyed 318, Advanced Publication Workshop, with Leo last semester (yes I know, I was a first-year student who "snuck" into that second-year course). I just hope 428 can be as exciting, in terms of mastering software and the amount of work expected. I have NO problem with classes like 202, 318 and 428 - in fact, I'd like more of them. So that's my only advice.

Another would be to profess the class as if it were a real on-line magazine, where we play different roles in setting it up. It's hard, because not everyone is as skilled in that on-line publication area as I am ;) But I guess that's what 202 is there for...and that's what the summer is there for (skill building).

Awaiting your reply. Take care.

Sandy P.

Ps. You got ripped off on the Mighty Mouse - I only payed $60 for mine taxes included from Micro-Boutique.

6:49 AM  

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