J-Students Totally Unprepared For Journalism

If two anecdotes make a trend, then woe to the current crop of J-students.

Two journalism professors at Howard University in Washington DC are disappointed in the students in their spring 2010 classes: Jack White wrote on his blog that he failed half his class. (The blog’s since been deleted, but parts of it are selectively quoted here in Richard Prince’s column.)

“The students who flunked were, to use a word the old folks favored, truly triflin’. They did not turn in work on time even though making deadlines is essential for a journalist. They missed classes. They did not keep up with current events. Their lack of mastery of the basics of English composition—spelling and grammar—was appalling. Their carelessness was breathtaking,” White wrote.

At the same time, Dwight Cunningham wrote that he flunked 40% of his class. The 60% that passed “at least demonstrated some effort.” Not high praise, exactly.

“They don’t know that mid-year elections come every two years, that 33 (or 34) U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs, that “ensure” means something totally different than “insure” — and they don’t care about their collective ignorance.

“They just want a passing grade, to get them to some unknown next level of stupid oblivion,” he wrote.

To be sure, this problem is not limited to journalism students or students at Howard. There are students everywhere who shouldn’t be in college and are just doing it because they were told it’s what they were supposed to do.

Until America figures that out, however, it puts the J-students who do give a damn at a huge advantage.