There’s a lot of good journalism being taught at Princeton. For example, during the school’s recent Spring Break, some students traveled to Paris to practice their reporting skills as part of a class taught by that city’s former New York Times bureau chief Elaine Scoliono. Similarly, Washington Post investigative reporter Joe Stephens has led separate summer trips to Greece, for an up-close documentation of the refugee crisis.
But none of that adds up to an official future resume designation, because there is no Journalism Certificate currently minted by the university. Sophomore Emily Erdos recently tried to work around that, but as she writes in student newspaper The Daily Princetonian, her effort was unsuccessful:
Princeton boasts an independent concentration program, advertising it for “students with academic interests that cannot be pursued adequately within an existing departmental concentration, certificate or interdisciplinary program.”
I tried this. I applied to be an independent major in journalism. I spoke with professors, an administrator, and a dean–all unsuccessfully. Repeatedly, I was told that journalism is a vocation, not an art, and that other concentrations could prepare me equally as well for the field.
Those faculty members are correct in noting that we have moved to the “vocation” phase of the profession. A great many more corners of journalism are now stations on the internet assembly line, often without union protection or proper lunch breaks. Nevertheless, Erdos makes a convincing case that the school should echo its high school journalism outreach and add such an undergraduate certificate.