Ron Semple, publisher of the Helena Independent-Record in Montana, said, "No one is hired directly from journalism schools on my newspaper. Ilet someone else knock the nonsense out of their heads.”
Semple mainly objects to elitism by journalism graduates.
“I go to meetings all over my community and I see reporters with working people, in community organizations. They no longer know how to get rapport with ordinary people. If we disdain the high school graduate who is a blue-collar worker then we alight as well give up. Reporters just don't know people like policemen and truck drivers anymore."
I wrote to the editors of 100 daily newspapers of above 25.000 circulation, the ten biggest in the country and ninety others taken at intervals from a list t of papers of descending size. Fifty-eight percent said they preferred journalism graduates. The editors of three of the biggest papers (Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and the Milwaukee Journal) said the preferred journalism graduates; the others (New York Daily News and Wall Street Journal among them) were indifferent.
The editors rated as superior journalism schools the University of Missouri. Northwestern, and Columbia. In 1972 deans of professional schools rated the best journalism faculties in this order: Columbia, Stanford, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Northwestern (lowest, Marshall, Louisiana State, San Fernando State). The most effective graduate programs were said to be, in order, Columbia, Minnesota, Northwestern, Stanford, and Missouri.
Whatever editors might say, they do hire journalism graduates. Sixty-five percent of their most recently hired reporters and an estimated 60 percent of their total professional staffs came from journalism schools. Larger papers seldom take on a reporter or editor directly from college. Published work and career experience are more relevant than place of education.
Michael O'Neil, editor of the largest paper in the country, the New York Daily News (circulation 1,900.000), expressed the sentiments of many editors, especially those of larger papers: "College years are a very precious period-one of the few times in life when you can concentrate fully on soaking up knowledge, developing thinking skills, forming judg- ments and points of view. If a student spends too much time learning the technical side of our busi- ness, then he or she may never again have the opportunity to build the intellectual stockpile needed for really productive work in later life…We can teach them the technical skills.”
On the other hand, Richard Leonard, editor of the Milwaukee Journal, expresses a view typical of major editors who prefer journalism graduates: "My experience has been that people who are interested in journalism as a profession attend journalism schools."
John Quinn, senior vice president of news and information of the Gannett chain, voices the same opinion: "Generally, they demonstrate a more sophisticated commitment to journalism and understanding of its demands, plus a working knowledge of the beginner skills."