Online Chat with Vice Dean David Klatell, July 27, 2006
Hosted by David Klatell, Vice Dean, with Evan Cornog, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; Elizabeth Fishman, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs; Assistant Dean of Students Melanie Huff.
In order to be as useful as possible, the transcript has been lightly edited for style, grammar, punctuation and clarity, and to put similar topics together. Read other transcripts here: http://deanstudents.blogsome.com/category/transcripts/
Melanie Huff: Hi, all - Welcome to the Big Picture Chat
Elizabeth Fishman: Hi, I’m Elizabeth Fishman, Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs. Delighted to join this chat today.
Evan Cornog: Hello, I’m Evan Cornog, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and andministrator of the MA program.
David Klatell: Hi, this is David Klatell welcoming everyone to our chat.
Melanie Huff: What questions do you have for us today?
Jon Krill: Are there any areas in the field currently considered to be hot?
Claude: Yes. Is “new media” hot or is too early to tell or….?
Elizabeth Fishman: To the degree that you, as a journalist, can be versatile, and able to work in many mediums (online, in print, with some video) that seems to be where the field is heading.
David Klatell: The world of New Media has recvered nicely from the boom and bust of several years ago, as manymore mainstream news organizations have realized the neccessity of convergent newsrooms. So I say, “hot.”
Claude: I have read in several places that the art of investigative journalism is being squeezed out due to pecuniary issues that are taken to the extreme. Is the field giving way to sound bites, blurbs and the like? or will publications such as The Economist, Vanity Fair, etc., continue to be robust?
Evan Cornog: Investigative and other long-form journalism is under attack financially, but there are new venues emerging, too. The school is deepending its commitment to investigative journlaism this year with the inauguration of the Stabile Center, so we think it has a bright future, in whatever form.
Claude: New venues such as?
Evan Cornog: Online, mostly, but also book publishing is getting more important than ever for investigative journalism.
Claude: book publishing — as in the extended research pieces that turn into dissertation like products? How difficult would online work be to break into as a magazine concentrator/Stabile investigative journalist?
Evan Cornog: Book-length works aren’t necessarily academic–they’re often journalistic (see our faculty’s works, for example).
Evan Cornog: And online right now is probably the easiest place to break in, whether at an independent online place or the online section of an old-media firm.
Akisa: Will non-Stabile students have access to investigative journalism classes as well?
David Klatell: the answer is that all students will have the opportunity to take investigative reporting, a wonderful elective called “Investigative Tools” and another, “Computer-assisted Reporting.”
ROLE OF J-SCHOOLS
Peter O’Dowd: so what are your feelings on the long-held belief that J-schools are redundant or a “waste of time,” by working journalists who say real world experience is the only way to go. Obviously, I take issue with that statement (since I am more than excited to start in August) but I’d like to hear what you as deans think about that.
David Klatell: Peter, there are two great advantages of a school such as this: 1) the intense, personal atention you and your work will receive (this rearely happens in the newsroom any more) and 2) the ability to work on a wide range of subject areas atthe same time, rather than be slotted and tracked by an editor whose needs are narrow.
HOW BEST TO USE TIME AT SCHOOL
Aaron Cahall: General question, wanted to hear everyone’s opinion–I’m sure there’s many answers: how can I best use my time at the school, as fast as I’m sure it’ll go?
Elizabeth Fishman: The best advice we can give, is to focus on your studies, realizing that the pace can be quite intense and, looking ahead to the spring semester, when you’ll have a great deal more choice in your classes, think hard about what you can study here that you wouldn’t learn as a working journalist.
And, of course, if you have any questions along the way, all of the deans and professors are available to help.
JOBS & CAREER SERVICES
[also see the Career Services chat transcript: http://deanstudents.blogsome.com/2006/07/10/sotomayor-chat-1/ ]
Akisa: What’s the rough estimate of broadcast students getting on-camera reporter work?
David Klatell: Akisa, you may be surprised to learn that only a minority of our students seek on-camera jobs in the U.S., in part because of the necessity to startone’s career in a series of small markets and in part because many students want to become producers and eventually, the boss.
Srabani Roy: Related to a previous question, how much help does career services provide for jobs outside of traditional media areas (e.g., non-profit, advocacy, international organizations, etc.)?
Claude: or think tanks even?
Melanie Huff: Career Services posts all the job notices it receives and is open to helping students look for positions outside of journalism. However the primary focus is on journalism jobs.
Claude: Fair enough.
Shradhha Sharma: Is it true that to work in New York you first have to leave it after graduation, gather a lot of experience and only then can you return to a good job in New York?
Elizabeth Fishman: In answer to Sharma’s question: there is no rule to this as so much depends on timing. That said, there are often good opportunities, with a lot of responsibilty, available in smaller media markets.
Shradhha Sharma: This is in connection with my first question….how good is the New York market for Columbia graduates? Especially international students?
Melanie Huff: Shradhha: It can be difficult for international students to get work after graduation because of visa issues. However, some companies are receptive.
BECOMING A FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT
Erica Shen: Jobs with what sort of publication will give us the most opportunity to work as a foreign correspondent?
Elizabeth Fishman: Erica: the easiest way to break into foreign reporting is often to begin as a stringer overseas. But, once you’re here, I encourage you to talk with our career services office, and also Josh Friedman, who runs our Int’l program and has worked for many years overseas.
Melanie Huff: It is difficult to work as a writer at a magazine right after graduation. However, it is possible to work as editors and in other positions that involve some writing and that will lead to more writing opportunities.
[also see the M.A. Program chat transcript:
Guest6844: What is the feed-back on the MA program so far? Are the first graduates getting hired faster than the MS students from 2006?
Evan Cornog: We’ve been having good success placing MA grads in a tough market, and getting them jobs in the areas of their specialization. And we just had one MA student sell her thesis to Harper’s. So signs are good.
Claude: When are we notified about our ballots?
Melanie Huff: Claude: We will notifying you in the next week or so about your class schedule.
Guest6861: Hi this is Abby Gruen, part-timer. I feel like the Internet has made choosing a concentration of newspapers vs. magazines vs. new media to be out-of -date. Any thoughts on convergence since content is king?
Elizabeth Fishman: Abby, there is no question that the industry is changing rapidly, and that many previously distinct areas of journalism are now more similar. But, there are still important differences in the magazine world versus the daily news world of newspapers.
Shradhha Sharma: How has this convergence of media affected the job industry in print journalism? Has it actually reduced the number of jobs available resulting in a lot of lay offs as one keeps reading about?
David Klatell: Convergent newsrooms are hiring multimedia journalists in droves, even as they may be reducing employees in other areas. It behooves everyone to be able to handle journalism in several media platforms; every major newspaper is now using using audio and video on its site, for example.
Jon Krill: Will my previous career in advertising (writer) hurt or help in any way?
Evan Cornog: Jon: since advertising teaches you to be concise on on-message, it should help.
David Klatell: Approximately 30% of the entering M.S. class is composed of career-changers. We love’em.
Allison Bourne-Vanneck: I think having a change in career is a huge asset in journalism!
David Klatell: Allison, you are absolutely correct - real ife experience gives great context to one’s stories and reactions to issues.
Jon Krill: Thanks Dean Klatell–it’s good to be loved.
Guest7116: Akisa, Allison and Jon: I’m another one — switching over from a Ph.D. program in history — I’ll have to learn to be concise on message.
Akisa: Same question for me as well. How can I tie in my math teacher background as a pending journalist?
Evan Cornog: Akisa: You’ll be in great demand, since innumeracy is a huge problem in journalism–one we are trying to work on here. Science and business journalism are obvious places to use math skills, but really any realm can use the insights that quantitative skills can bring.
Akisa: I honestly had trepidation when I heard the median age at the info session
Guest6708: what’s the median age?
Elizabeth Fishman: The median age is 28.5
Claude: The median age is the same as in many business schools.
Shradhha Sharma: Given the kind of skills classes available for students to take up, can a student with print media concentration break easily into the areas like broadcast, magazine or even new media?
Melanie Huff: Yes, graduates do move between fields. Melanie Huff: The diploma only says MS, the concentration is an internal designation only.
David Fusaro: In addition to the being able to work in different media, is it best to hone our skills in one or two specific subject areas or to develop as broad a base as possible?
Evan Cornog: We think our prime goal should be to teach you how to report, and how to write in the medium you want to specialize in, but also develop awareness of multi-platform possibilites.
Evan Cornog: The forms in which journalism is done are constantly changing, but the fundamental thinking-skills are pretty invariable.
Elizabeth Fishman: I know this first-hand, as my background is in television news.
FREELANCING WHILE AT SCHOOL
Steven Elwell: Do professors at the J-school encourage or in any way help students sell stories they’ve written for classes throughout the year?
Allison Bourne-Vanneck: Two part question: 1) How difficult is it to freelance in broadcast televison during our year & 2) How can broadcast students free lance for print media in the spring?
David Klatell: Steven, professors take pride in assisting their best students. We are rigorous about quality, however, and the faculty is pretty choosy about the stories they help place. It’s better this way for everyone involved.
Elizabeth Fishman: Allison, as to part 2 of your question, if you would like to write freelance pieces for print media in the spring, and you can find a gig, that is much more doable.
Allison Bourne-Vanneck: Thank you so much! I’m excited about broadcast, but I would love to free-lance in print! :_)
DIFFERENT WRITING STYLES
Guest6844: Is the “writing for television” class very different than writing for magazines or RW1? How? Should there be a writing for the Internet as well?
David Klatell: 6844, there are substantial differences in writing and reporting styles in various media, and students are given the opportunity to take courses in several. You should take a look at our student pi=ublication “The ColumbiaJournalist.org” which features all kinds of student writing. Also look at “NYC24″ which is produced by the New Media Workshop every year.
in writing and reporting styles in various media, and students are given the opportunity to take courses in several. You should take a look at our student pi=ublication “The ColumbiaJournalist.org” which features all kinds of student writing. Also look at “NYC24″ which is produced by the New Media Workshop every year.
Shradhha Sharma: On an average, how many students go in for the spring internships every year?
Melanie Huff: Last year 26 students did for-credit internships of no more than 12 hours a week. However, some students do internships that aren’t for credit, too.
WHERE GRADS GO
Guest6708: I would guess that not all graduates go to traditional media outlets…what are some other common areas students work in?
Elizabeth Fishman: Our graduates work in a wide range of places — a good deal work in traditional media jobs as well as online, some work in advocacy groups, public affairs offices in governemental agencies - really, a very broad range.
Guest6708: ok…would you say the Career Services office is helpful in those other areas as well.
Erica Shen: I come from a literary journalism background, how receptive are the mainstream newspapers towards that type of narrative journalism?
Evan Cornog: Erica: Depends on the paper. But with the breaking news function being more and more a function of broadcast and the web, newspapers are becoming more magazine-like, and therefore open to the sort of writing you are interested in.
David Fusaro: What is the best strategy for pitching our print pieces and to develop contacts at local news sources so the ideas we pitch are more likely to be noticed?
Evan Cornog: David: Working hard, getting scoops, being relentless in pitching, and being flexible all help.
David Fusaro: Thanks, Dean Cornog. Forza azzuri.
Evan Cornog: Grazie.
Aaron Cahall: How familiar are various sources in our beats with Columbia students…that many students coming through every year, do we run the risk of being, for some people, the next Columbia student in their experience?
David Klatell: Aaron, it’s a good question, because believe itor not, 200 Columbia students seem to overwhelm and annoy more than eight million residents. The trick is to pick a beat or neighborhood that has not previously been swamped (your RWI instructor will help with this selection process.) The good news is that most residents (if not neighborhood officialdom) are deeply grateful that any journalist is willing to spend the time to really get to know them and their issues - the major media never show up unless there’s a crisis. Ordinary folks in this city, like those elsewhere, appreciate having their story told - or at least respectfully listened to.
CLIPS, CLIPS, CLIPS
Srabani Roy: For someone with a limited journalism background what’s the best way, while in school, to gather clips, especially since after graudation everyone (in traditional media outlets anyway) want to see clips, clips and more clips?
Elizabeth Fishman: For pieces you write while being a student, we have several outlets from which you can generate clips. There is also Bronx Beat, which is a print newspaper produced by students in the spring. This, too, is a way to gather clips.
Sree Sreenivasan adds: Most employers consider our J-school online clips - ColumbiaJournalist.org, NYC24, etc. - to be the equivalent of printed clips.
Guest6844: Hi it’s Abby again [continuing PT student], I have been surprised how many clips I have gotten while at Columbia by pitching anyone I could think of as often as I could. Having pitches rejected out of hand can be embarassing and uncomfortable, but hey, you’re in school, it gives you a little more leeway.
Jon Krill: Are we able to stay on (housing-wise) to take additional classes next summer?
Melanie Huff: Housing ends when you graduate. However, there is some summer housing available on campus, but you would have to move.
COLUMBIA NEWS SERVICE
Steven Elwell: Do magazine students get a chance to put features up on CNS?
Melanie Huff: Students in courses outside of CNS can pitch stories to Prof. Porter for inclusion in this feature service for out of town editors looking for pieces with a nationwide appeal and long shelf life.
Steven Elwell: I see what you mean. Thanks.
Peter O’Dowd: big picture, what have you heard from alumni who have attended Columbia in terms of what the program has done for their lives and their careers years down the road?
David Klatell: Peter, the big difference may or may not show up in the first year after school. There is no question, however, that a high percentage of our grads advance faster and to higher levels of news organizatins than do people who have not been exposed to our rigorous combination of skills and a certain seriousness of purpose.
Peter O’Dowd: great, thanks
Allison Bourne-Vanneck: How strong is the networking among alumni from Columbia J-School, in the US and overseas
Evan Cornog: Allison: the networking is very strong, and our alumni office has made this a priority.
Allison Bourne-Vanneck: Thanks!
Shradhha Sharma: Dean Klatell, how easy/difficult is it for international students to do RW1 considering that they are new to the place and all. Also, do the city residents easily connect with the international students or is that one area in which int’ls need to focus more than the other students?
David Klatell: Shraddha, since morethan 40% of the residents of New York City were born in another country, international students may actually enjoy an advantage. Don’t forget, too, that the vast majority of American students have never heard of or been to the neighborhoods they’ll be covering, either.
Shradhha Sharma: Thanks Dean Klatell, although the prospect of reporting in a completely alien environment seems daunting and exciting at the same time.
Jon Krill: I’ve heard, from a U. level teacher and practising journalist, that a Columbia degree is the gold standard if you ever want to teach.
Melanie Huff: Good Point
David Fusaro: In addition to the writing clips, is there much attention/guidance given to the development of broadcast reels
Elizabeth Fishman: David, yes, for broadcast students, the Spring is a time to polish your broadcast reel.You and your classmates are the first students to have use of our fantastic new Arledge Broadcast facility for the full year and this allows you to work in a professional-grade facility.
Guest8948: …and kind of along the same lines, wondering how aspiring PHOTOjournalists fare… Do the courses offered provide opportunity to put together a portfolio?
David Klatell: Dear 8948, the photo classes concentrate on photojournalism essays and students can produce portfolios, but this is not primarily a school of photography, so the extent of the portfolio may be less than youwould want (though it’s in part a function of how much time and work you can devote to it). Remember, too, that the photojournalism classes, like all our classes, have a significant journalism element and cover breaking news as well as produce work for The Bronx Beat newspaper, Columbia News Service, etc.
Guest8948: that makes sense - thanks!
Akisa: I noticed the Nightly News is only online. Is there a possibility to have it on Public Access TV?
Elizabeth Fishman: Akisa, we are exploring ways in which we might disseminate Nightly News to a broader audience…
Elizabeth Fishman: There is nothing in-place yet, but now that we are working with an all-digital facility, there may be opportunities down the line — and, ideally for this spring’s Nightly News. Can’t promise it , but we are exploring.
ONE-YEAR vs TWO-YEAR PROGRAMS
Srabani Roy: What’s the thinking behind an intense one-year program vs. a two-year program (only one of the programs I’d applied to was for two years). I can hazard a guess, but would be interested in what the deans have to say — pros/cons of one year vs. two years (besides the finanical of course!)
Evan Cornog: Srabani: We opted for two one-year programs, so those who want to spend a second year and develop great expertise in a particular subject-area can do so.
Srabani Roy: Has the school considered having an international concentration for M.A. students?
Evan Cornog: Srabani: We include that in our politics concentration, although other majors (such as business) can have an international focus, depending on the thesis topic chosen and outside courses selected.
- - -
Jon Krill: Thanks, all. This has been wunnerful & I feel better already.
David Klatell: Good night and good luck!
Elizabeth Fishman: Bye, everyone. We look forward to meeting you all.
Evan Cornog: Bye.