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February 19, 2008

J-School dean sends students his own self-evaluation

By Dave Lee STD

A cock-up of momumental proportions from Nicholas Lemman, dean of Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.

Rather than send his students their evaluations for projects undertaken in their first semester, Lemman mistakenly sent out his own self-evaluation. Ouch.

Is it a blessing in disguise, though? When I read his text, I couldn’t help but admire the honesty shown by Lemman in realising where the problems lie.

Especially:

I cannot be sure how long our school can continue to thrive if the profession it serves is not thriving. We have many advantages, including our financial resources, our location, our worldwide reputation, our strong relationships with employers, and the quality of our faculty and curriculum. We do not have the advantages almost all other journalism schools have: a large and not very job market-sensitive undergraduate student body and low tuition. In the short run, we are benefiting from journalism’s replacing older reporters with younger ones, but in the long run we must be as attentive to recruiting and to placement as possible, and we must teach our students to be journalists in ways that are as broadly applicable as possible geographically and across the different media.

Yes, yes, yes! What this signals is a change in focus for the school’s graduates. And that is crucial.

Jeff Jarvis adds his very in-depth thoughts here. He calls it a “good oops”. I have to agree.

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