I stumbled upon this article about paid student bloggers at M.I.T. last night as I was sifting through old issues of the New York Times, (I’m clearly more than a little behind on my daily news consumption ritual) when The Obvious, rude and hulking, mowed me down like a 10-ton freight train.
We should really be doing this at Stony Brook…or at least, on a smaller scale, within the journalism department.
Think about it-recruiting majors to blog about their experiences in the program would enable the department to kill two birds with one incredibly multi-faceted stone.
First of all, I’m confident that student bloggers would more than satisfy the intended purpose. Their input would enable prospective freshmen to get a sense of what the journalism program at Stony Brook is really all about, and if all goes well, the department would surely gain some fresh meat (and tuition fees) out of the deal.
I, for one, can tell you that I had virtually no idea what I was getting into when I signed onto this major two years ago. I’m sure this point is slowly getting stale by now, but I’ll go ahead and repeat myself-the only thing that I wanted to do at the time was slap my byline on big, sweeping feature pieces all semester long. Even now, I could take or leave the hard stuff, really.
To tell you truth, I also thought that I’d be dead-set on the print track from day one. I suppose I could have overcome my habitual laziness for half an hour and just taken a closer look at the major curriculum, but I came into this having no idea that I’d be required by the department to take a broadcast class or post my views on the Web. Honestly, I’d never even heard of WordPress until the beginning of this semester.
Second of all, paid blogging, or department-supported input of any nature that is posted in a visible location in cyberspace, would be an incredible opportunity for those of us who have already been in the program for a little while.
Obviously, it could be used to show potential employers or internship coordinators that the students here have some idea what they’re doing on the Web, just as the industry is struggling to figure out the Internet equation. Blogging has gradually become a skill that is essential to securing a safe spot for oneself in a completely refurbished job market.
That said, it seems like a pretty interesting way to build a portfolio while simultaneously demonstrating to graduate schools that you are indeed at least somewhat involved in campus life and the activities of the journalism school.
In addition, the writing talent here is pretty deep…why not showcase some of that on the School of Journalism homepage?
In this economy, of course, I’m not so sure how willing the administration would be to support a bunch of paid bloggers (particularly when the administrators have no way of knowing what exactly students plan on saying about the department beforehand), but ultimately, I think it would be a great employment opportunity for prospective career journalists.
On a separate note, it would certainly be of help to outgoing high school seniors. Honestly, I’m pretty sure that something like this would have been more useful to me than the holiday of information overload that is freshman orientation.
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