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August 25, 2011
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An F for U of I journalism program

Future journalists may need to look outside of Iowa City for their professional studies, as the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication announced it will be cutting one of its two master's programs. That's unfortunate for the University of Iowa, its students, the media and all who rely on quality reporting, but it does provide opportunities for other universities, namely Iowa State. In addition, this change may push all of Iowa's state universities to succeed through specialization rather than competing with each other by alluring students in similar areas of study.

Even so, the way this all played out certainly leaves the University of Iowa with ink in its eye. According to an article in the Iowa City Press Citizen, the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication found both the undergraduate program and the professional master's program to be out of compliance. The council issued a "provisional accreditation" for the undergraduate program and completely pulled the accreditation for the professional master's program. As a result, Iowa will no longer accept applications for professional master's studies and will end the program when current students finish.

Programs don't lose their accreditation easily, and those responsible for implementing the necessary change deserve criticism, especially knowing that the Accrediting Council expressed similar concerns six years prior and little was done to correct the problems. The primary stated reasons, according to the Press Citizen article, were a lack of graduate programs and an insufficient number of students.

This may be a sign of the times, with college professors continually telling students that traditional media — namely print — is dead and to search for other career choices. Anyone with a computer and Internet access can also be a journalist, blogging and tweeting to report the news. All they need is someone willing to pay them for it.

The writing is on the wall, as Iowa's undergraduate program will likely lose its accreditation in time as well. Those with journalism degrees from the University of Iowa are embarrassed by this fiasco, and understandably so. Meanwhile, what's done is done. The University of Iowa needs to move forward by focusing on programs it excels in and clear the way for other state universities to do the same. CV



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