Director's Note | February 2024

Emily Metzgar photo with Jargon overlay

Did you know the Kent State School of Media and Journalism is a national leader in all things scholastic journalism? We’re kind of a big deal. One of only 23 U.S. universities with a Knight Chair in Journalism, Kent State’s School of Media and Journalism is home to the Knight Chair in Scholastic Journalism. In July 2023, Peter Bobkowski joined MDJ from the University of Kansas as our new Knight Chair. A well-recognized scholar in the scholastic journalism space, Bobkowski spearheaded CCI’s celebration of Scholastic Journalism Week last week. Collecting alumni stories from post-secondary institutions around the country, he’s helping raise awareness about the long-term positive impact of participation in newspapers, yearbooks, broadcasting and other media activities in high school. High school students who participate in student media go on to succeed in college and flourish after graduation.

What is scholastic journalism anyway? In a nutshell, it’s a focus on instruction and advising on journalistic news norms and routines in classroom and extracurricular settings. Did you write for your school newspaper once upon a time? You participated in scholastic journalism. Did you take pictures for your high school yearbook? You participated in scholastic journalism. Did you DJ for your high school or college radio station? Yup. That falls under the scholastic journalism umbrella, too.

Scholastic Journalism Week is dedicated to promoting real life examples of the dynamics spelled out 30 years ago in a widely-cited publication titled, “Journalism Kids Do Better.” Supporting the future of journalism is important, of course. Training future media professionals is at the heart of what we do in our School. Even more important, however, is our mission of nurturing engaged citizens who are curious about the world around them, who seek to contribute to the communities in which they live, and who have the skills to advocate for themselves and others in personal, professional, and political contexts. High school experience in journalism and journalism-adjacent activities helps put young people on the path toward exceptional futures in whatever professions they choose.

MDJ’s leadership in this space didn’t happen by accident. Indeed, in April, the Journalism Education Association (JEA) will recognize with lifetime achievement awards three friends of MDJ who are responsible for our strong reputation in scholastic journalism. Mark Goodman, professor emeritus and MDJ’s first Knight Chair; recently retired MDJ professor Candace Bowen; and former MDJ adjunct instructor and past leader of the Scholastic Press Rights Committee John Bowen, are being recognized by their peers in the national organization that hosts two annual conventions for high school journalism advisers, their students, academic researchers, publishers and others. The School of Media and Journalism maintains a strong presence at JEA each year, and we’re delighted that three of our own are being recognized in this way. MDJ’s scholastic journalism legacy is strong, and the thousands of people who attend JEA conventions get to hear about it.

But we’re not resting on our laurels. One of very few post-secondary institutions offering instruction in journalism education, MDJ has proposed creation of a new, standalone M.A. in Journalism Education. If approved, this one-of-a-kind degree will help ensure the dissemination of advanced foundational knowledge and skills training to current and future journalism educators who can apply insights derived from participation in our program to their work in school settings around the United States. Having better trained instructors and advisors focused on scholastic journalism in high schools and universities will enrich opportunities for students to engage with media and journalism production as part of their secondary and post-secondary education while also instilling in them an appreciation for the vital role of journalism in a democratic system. We’re excited about prospects for approval of this proposed degree and will be sure to keep you posted as it moves through university- and state-level review processes.

POSTED: Monday, February 26, 2024 09:15 AM
Updated: Friday, March 8, 2024 09:17 AM
Emily Metzgar, Director, School of Media and Journalism