Knight Center
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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

University to close journalism program amidst calls to improve journalism education in the U.S.



Emory University has announced it will be shutting down its journalism program in two years, a decision that contrasts sharply with recent calls for universities to improve journalism education by embracing the digital era, a necessary condition for keeping citizens informed and American democracy healthy.

Robin Forman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Emory University, said Friday, Sept. 14, that the journalism department and three others will be phased out in two years, allowing current students to finish their studies. The action was part of a large reorganization at the school located in Atlanta, Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Hank Klibanoff, director of the 16-year-old Emory journalism program, said faculty were stunned by the decision that teaching journalism no longer fits into the university's future. "I am not sure why preparing our students to be critical thinkers, professional journalists and better-informed citizens, as we do, carries a negative connotation," said Klibanoff, a former managing editor at the Journal-Constitution.

Calling on universities to hurry up and embrace digital communication and the age of continuous disruption, Eric Newton, a senior adviser to the president at the Knight Foundation, said on Monday, Sept. 10: "Without better-equipped graduates, how can we be sure future generations will have the news and information they need to run their communities and their lives?"

Newton and representatives of five other foundations urged journalism and communication programs, in an open letter released Aug. 3, to adopt the "teaching hospital" model, one that requires a more professional and less academic approach to journalism instruction.

Newton praised institutions like the School of Journalism at the University of Texas for updating its curriculum, while also citing the News21 project at Arizona State University as an example of how students and faculty can produce meaningful reporting that benefits the community at large.



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