Theory gives way to workplace readiness ( extract )

‘Can’t write, can’t spell and can’t find a story”: so goes the frequently quoted criticism of university journalism graduates by editors.

The editor, as any young reporter knows, is ignored at great peril and the message is filtering through to educators. As pressure mounts to provide work-ready graduates, journalism schools are responding with skills-based courses that claim to rival cadetship programs of the big media outlets of generations past.

One such college is the small, private Brisbane-based Jschool, brainchild of former University of Queensland journalism professor John Henningham.

Henningham left UQ a few years ago, disgruntled about what he says was a diminishing share of resources and a lack of respect for news-gathering skills.

Jschool has just produced its first four graduates. Between them the students had more than 300 stories published in regional and metropolitan papers throughout Queensland and northern NSW, all written as part of their coursework.

Jschool will take up to 12 students next year. Classes start in February and will conclude at the end of September to allow graduates time to find work before the summer holidays. The annual fee is about $10,000.

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