We Need Specialists to Cover the Economy, but Are Journalism Students Interested?
Given the complexities of pressing science-related issues such as climate change or biomedical research, we need a new breed of specialist journalist who covers the intersections of science and policy. Rick Weiss, recently retired from the Washington Post, or Andrew Revkin at the NY Times, are probably leading prototypes of this desperately needed specialist. There are few other major outlets for this type of journalism, The Economist or Dave Goldston's column at Nature the exceptions.
News organizations and editors, despite budget tightening, have to prioritize the hiring and cultivation of specialists across beats. And it's not just at the science and policy intersection, but as the past two weeks' events underscore, it also matters for sectors such as the economy or foreign policy.
Yet are students interested in specializing? There's a troubling anecdote from one of our elite journalism schools that student motivation is just not there. From a segment at last week's On the Media radio program (transcript, audio above):
BOB GARFIELD: Cheryl Strauss Einhorn is an adjunct professor of financial journalism at Columbia University's Journalism School. She says that even in times like these, when finance is the story, the students of one of the nation's top J-schools just don't seem to care.
CHERYL STRAUSS EINHORN: This year they weren't even able to drum up enough interest to have two different sections of the financial journalism course. As a matter of fact, I think, all told, through the entire graduate journalism program at Columbia, that they may have had as few as four students show an interest in taking business journalism.
I do give them a questionnaire when they come in and ask them why they're taking the class. Many of the people, when they've answered this, have said that a family member has recommended that this would be good for them, or that they're just completely uncomfortable and they don't like the business section of the newspaper so they thought they would take the class and try to get themselves to have more of an open mind.
But there have been very few people who have taken the class because they've come in saying, this is where my interest is.
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Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
A new study, led by psychologist Jean Twenge, points to the screen as the problem.
- In a new study, adolescents and young adults are experiencing increased rates of depression and suicide attempts.
- The data cover the years 2005–2017, tracking perfectly with the introduction of the iPhone and widespread dissemination of smartphones.
- Interestingly, the highest increase in depressive incidents was among individuals in the top income bracket.
On Thursday, New Zealand moved to ban an array of semi-automatic guns and firearms components following a mass shooting that killed 50 people.
- Gun control supporters are pointing to the ban as an example of swift, decisive action that the U.S. desperately needs.
- Others note the inherent differences between the two nations, arguing that it is a good thing that it is relatively hard to pass such legislation in such a short timeframe.
- The ban will surely shape future conversations about gun control in the U.S.
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