J-students need craft and theory…

In this CJR interview, Lee Bollinger, president of Columbia University, says:

It is not a question of teaching craft or teaching something else. Are there portions of the craft, portions of doing what journalists do, that better yield an intellectual experience, or an educational experience that improves your intellectual capacities, than other parts of the craft? At the end of the day no journalism school worth its name would not teach craft. You should teach craft. On the other hand, what about theory? It would be a grave error to believe that theory as a dimension of our ways of understanding the world is completely inappropriate to the teaching of journalists. Understanding the underlying theory of journalism, the history of journalism, the ideas about how people receive information and process it are all things that it would be good to know, it seems to me, as a journalist.

I like Bollinger’s approach. Journalism is an under-theorized practice. Too many journalists practice their craft well but are unable to say what it is they do beyond surface descriptions of practice.