Journalism students don’t read newspapers and magazines, a Detroit News columnist discovers. She asked University of Michigan-Dearborn students to name their favorite columnist.
Slowly, one hand rises. A sports columnist is mentioned.
Nobody else in the room hints at any recognition of the sports columnist’s name: Anyone?
“My generation is very visually oriented,” explains Ryan Schreiber, a U-M Dearborn junior from Dearborn who — like most in the class — is majoring in journalism but doesn’t read much of it.
“My generation grew up watching MTV. We are used to short spurts of words, lots of images…We’re used to immediate gratification.”
He points out that columns like this one are blocks of text, decorated only with a thumbnail photo and a headline.
No dancing images, no colorful pop-ups, no audio.
Words on paper. Blah.
The newspaper columnist likes immediate gratification, too. And imagining a future filled with non-reading writers doesn’t provide such gratification. It is, in fact, a terrifying thought.
In another UM-D class, the professor discovered only four or five of 35 journalism students read a newspaper regularly. He required students to bring a paper to class twice a week. Students complained.
The Michigan Journal, the student newspaper, responds, saying j-students are well-informed, but not necessarily by reading dead-tree media.
College students and future journalists do not have a hard time reading, but rather, have a hard time finding time to read. We do have a “fast-paced lifestyle” so means of getting information quickly are ideal and no less credible.
So, if they read a lot online, why can’t they name a favorite columnist?