After September 11, most schools simply herded together as
many war experts, foreign correspondents and policy wonks they could
find to discuss how to report wars, which younger
generations of journalists have not dealt with before.
Like many professors around the country, Charles Davis at the Missouri
Journalism School came to class in fall 2001 with a syllabus -
then promptly shelved it after the attacks.
"I basically threw it out," said Davis, executive director
of the school's Freedom of Information Center.
He teaches "Controls of Information," which deals with the
now-pressing issue of media access to government and military documents.
Where the course used to traverse seemingly esoteric material like filing
for freedom of information acts, the class now boasts three weeks of
sexy topics like counter-terrorism as well as a unit on national security
versus public right to know.
"It's changed my class in a good way. It's made it very
current," said Davis. "It used to seem academic."
Besides refocusing existing classes in light of the attacks, many journalism
schools are changing curriculums by adding more religion and foreign
reporting classes. This fall, Northwestern University's Medill
School of Journalism in Evanston, Illinois will offer a special topics
class, "Arab and Islamic Worlds." Similarly, the University
of California, Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism will offer a Middle
Eastern reporting class.
But immediately after September 11, most schools simply herded together
as many war experts, foreign correspondents and policy wonks they could
find to discuss how to report wars, which younger generations of journalists
have not dealt with before.
Columbia University in New York, still reeling from the attacks, managed
to host three panels with journalists from Ground Zero. The school also
opened up rooms for the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, which
held workshops for recovering students and professionals.
About a quarter of Medill's weekly lectures since September 11
have dealt with covering the attacks directly or secondarily, said Roger
Boye, dean of the school. On Oct. 15, the school staged a panel on "Covering
and Surviving Terrorism." It featured Roy Gutman of Newsweek, Carol
Marin of 60 Minutes, Steve Franklin, the former Middle East correspondent
from the Chicago Tribune and Dr. John Rolland, a University of Chicago
The last inclusion hints at perhaps the biggest changes at journalism
schools, which weren't about classes, but therapy. For the first
time in many years, schools are encouraging students to see psychologists
and psychiatrists - especially Columbia.
The university called in four trauma counselors who met with individual
students and groups shortly after the attacks, according to David Klatell,
associate dean for academic affairs. In addition, a psychiatrist who
worked with Oklahoma City bombing victims addressed the entire school.
- Shirley Dang
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