Changing Photojournalism Education in American Universities
Kenneth Kenney stated the obvious in 1987- “The lack of trained teachers and educators and standard teaching materials is the most pressing problem in photojournalism education” (Kenney 1987). The same rings true today- professors in the fields of journalism and photojournalism are practicing the same things they were taught in college- many have been out of the workforce for years, if they were working journalists or photojournalists at all. Today’s professors were trained in the beginning of the digital age or earlier, and practices and requirements for the future photojournalists have changed, and are continuing to change daily. Without the proper re-education of these professors, students from the “Net-Generation” will be improperly trained for their role as photojournalists in the workforce (Oblinger & Oblinger 2005). Some professors are habitually technologically unsavvy- they don’t use technology. Oblinger and Oblinger shows a scenario where a student tries to get in touch with their teacher via e-mail, to no avail. Why? The professor doesn’t check it. Professors like this, which are more common than not, are those that need to be re-trained in technology. They need to understand their students, and their students’ needs, rather than just their ways of the past (Oblinger and Oblinger, 2005).
The same can be said for teaching materials. Without the proper funding from patrons and the schools, the journalism departments cannot afford to update the teaching materials. Examples include Photoshop- which constantly updates its software, as well as cameras. Students with no access to the cameras that they may use in the workforce, such as the Canon 5d Mark III (retail price: $3,399 for the body only) (Canon, 2014), will not be prepared to use them in the field. A study done by Bernardo Bay Jr. showed that students with regular access to technology such as digital cameras and Power Point presentations felt that they were more capable and prepared, while students that were deprived of Wi-Fi and computers felt that they were the most serious problems with the course (Bay, 2013). To ensure the proper training with equipment, the student must have access to the constantly-changing and updating materials that photojournalists, photographers, and journalists regularly have to evolve with.
Oblinger and Oblinger again address this- today’s college students, the “Net-Gen”, have grown up with technology- they have the latest computer, software, programs, websites, phones, etc. Children and youth today average more time spent on digital media than watching TV. Today’s Net Gen also expects up-to-date technology in their learning process, and expect their professors to have knowledge of the technology similar to theirs (Oblinger and Oblinger, 2005).
Photojournalism today epitomizes the multimedia function- photojournalists are required to perform multiple duties rather than just take pictures....