Should PR be in the journalism school?

Don’t get me wrong. I am extremely proud to be a part of the Walter Cronkite School. It’s one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the country. But that’s the thing. It’s one of the best “journalism” schools. As a PR major on the verge of graduation, I can remember sitting in my required JMC and MCO classes. I would always be wondering, “What does this have to do with PR?” Yes, print ethics and the future of business journalism are important but hello! What about us? Has the j-school forgotten about us? I would appreciate more emphasis on PR in our classes.

I wanted to find out if PR should really be under the journalism curriculum so I found this argument by Bob Conrad. It gives ten reasons about why PR should not be in journalism schools. They are all fascinating, but there was one reason that grabbed my attention, “Public relations professionals are (slowly, at times) embracing and celebrating new media. The latest issues of the PRSA newsletter were ripe with social media articles and Twitter was a front page feature.” Does that mean all this practice on how to write a perfect press release was in vain?

Mike Keliher wrote a blog to counter Conrad’s argument. As a part of his post, he writes, “The future of PR is a return to what should have always been our focus: telling stories effectively, communicating and interacting with people. It’s not a business function; it’s a human function.”

Does that mean is it our responsibility as PR majors or “problem solvers” to think of a new business model for journalism? Is that really our problem? Obviously this wouldn’t be if we were in the business school.

What do you think?

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18 Responses to Should PR be in the journalism school?

  1. kparma says:

    I think that’s one of the burdens we bear for being part of a journalism school; we have to learn about journalism from a news organization standpoint. Personally, I think that if PR is going to be part of the J-school, we should get more classes specialized toward PR. I think a lot of the business of PR is geared toward journalism, but I also think a lot of it is geared toward business. So does that mean we should spend half our time in the J-school and half in the business school? I think if we’re going to stay in the journalism field, we need to stop being treated like black sheep and more like assets. Could you imagine a world without PR? I sure can’t.

  2. jsaxarra says:

    Wow, finally someone wrote about this! Great job. I completely support the arguments about PR not being in a journalism school. I, too, am pretty excited about being one of the first classes to graduate from the brand new Cronkite School but it really doesn’t feel like we belong there.

    Valid points have already been made. Almost our entire curriculum is directed toward print, broadcast or journalism as a whole. While I believe that it definitely improves our skill sets having a broader spectrum, it’s not exactly what we signed up for. I don’t regret anything and at this point, you really can’t. However, I transferred to ASU as a business major, so I know what I’m missing out on.

  3. gbohulan says:

    I agree completely with both of you. We should have more classes geared towards PR. I just wish we also had more business classes related to the field as well. Whether I’m in the journalism school or the business school, I would need more focus. I am still torn if that means PR should be in the journalism school.

  4. cafuller says:

    Ever since my very first journalism class, every PR major was outraged that we PR students were required to take these journalism writing classes. While I might get some heat for this comment, I’m going to stand by what I think. Yeah, we might not be writing and hunting for stories for the rest of our lives, or even ever, but don’t you think the skills we learned in those journalism classes will help us out? A huge part of PR is pitching stories and ideas to journalists. It’ll be a major advantage that we KNOW what they want! I used to be completely outraged about the focus on journalism for PR majors, until my internship boss gave me some really good advice. She told me that the best thing she ever did for her PR career was work in a news room as a journalist. Now she knows exactly what they want and knows how to get her stories for her clients onto the news desk. So, I really value the skills I’ve learned in those classes. I consider myself a Journalism AND PR major. I do agree, though, that there should be more PR-focused courses…2 is definitely not enough.

  5. gbohulan says:

    I defintely agree with that. I value every moment at my internship at the East Valley Tribune. I too, learned how to pitch better and write better. That was probably the best aspect of being in the journalism school, but I want more!

  6. maxlawrencehollister says:

    What is the difference between public relations and media relations? If it’s media relations that you are looking to get into then, pr classes being apart of the journalism makes perfect sense. To do media relations, you have to know how a journalist thinks. I know that some students in this class would like to be publicist. If that’s the case, then they have to be experts on how the media works.

    I feel for my future career, classes like JMC 301 have better prepared me than my pr classes. But that is sports media relations. I don’t know what the difference between the two are, but if we were not in the Cronkite School, we would probably be apart of the University College with communication degrees. I’ll take a journalism degree over a communications degree.

  7. maxlawrencehollister says:

    Oh, one more thing. The most important skill to have in either media relations or public relations is writing. I can’t stress that enough. The Cronkite School has made me a much better writer. What about you?

  8. plepkows says:

    I have to disagree with the notion to separate public relations classes from journalism courses. I think that an emphasis in journalism is critical to an understanding of public relations. Communications is all about understanding what people want to hear, and what people need to hear. Journalism courses teach us what is actually “news,” which is critical to success in our field. We can then apply this understanding of newsworthiness to craft effective messages for any medium, whether it is print, broadcast or social media.

  9. gbohulan says:

    Oh I definitely think the Cronkite School has made me a better write. I think you are correct about the difference between public relations and media relations. We’re given much media relations training. I think we can use the media to communicate with the public.

    No matter what school we are in, we need to have specific courses for us. I am just confused. Here I am from one of the best journalism schools in the country, and I still feel like I am not getting everything I can be getting.

  10. jsaxarra says:

    Regardless of which school/department/courses we’re a part of, we’re getting to the point where the “rest” of our learning is essentially going to be hands on, in a real job setting. We have (had) some outstanding professors but I feel that I’ve learned more from the internships I’ve worked in, opposed to in class exercises.

    I’ve definitely taken a lot from my time at ASU, and I’m obviously nowhere near an expert at PR/journalism, but I feel that this is just supposed to give us a taste of what to expect, not the entire meal.

  11. kbergeron44 says:

    I do believe that the journalism school is where public relations belongs because it does teach the most effective ways of communicating any story or message to the public, however I think that there should be more “love” given to public relations in the journalism schools. Public relations, for the most part, goes completely against most of the ideals set forth by journalism schools (i.e. non biased stance, do not be misleading, let the reader make up their own opinion, etc.) which I believe leads to an almost rivalry between the two. Yes, public relations and journalism are quite different, but they also feed off of each other. Instead of trying to discern those differences, journalism schools should accept them and focus more on how these two differing fields can coincide.

  12. sekane says:

    As I’ve read all of these comments, one thing sticks out to me. Max said that he doesnt know what the difference between the journalism school and the communications school is and I think that is a basic problem here at ASU. We are unsure where we fit. With PR booming, the innovators are wondering why we are still in the jounrnalism school, but if we were in the communications school we’d still be wondering why we were there. It is a confusing subject and I’m not sure what the answer is, but I’m thinking of getting really rich someday and donating a ton of money to ASU to build a Shannon Kane school of Public Relations because I think, just maybe, it deserves it own college.

  13. gbohulan says:

    I do feel we need more “love.” We should all be in harmony with our fellow professional colleagues. Not compete against each other because we need both to succeed in our job.

    Shannon, that was the best comment I’ve ever had. It made me laugh. Thank you.

  14. Mike Keliher says:

    When I wrote “The future of PR is a return to what should have always been our focus: telling stories effectively, communicating and interacting with people,” I was not implying that PR people should be saddled with the responsibility of fixing the news business — but if someone pounds that out, too, awesome.

    What I meant is that our job is help clients tell their stories well and help our clients her their customers’ stories. Media relations — getting our clients’ stories covered in the newspaper, for example — is often part of that, but there’s so much more. What if every story you’ve ever pitched — the good ones that were not covered in the paper for one reason or another — was instead published on your blog or your YouTube channel? You now have so many opportunities outside of traditional media that PR people who aren’t well-trained in storytelling are short-changing their clients.

    Thanks for the post. It’s an interesting discussion.

  15. mjcavaleri says:

    Public relations is the bastard child of the J-school and the business school.

    Neither school wants to claim PR and PR has a skeptical view.

    Obviously, it depends on what kind of public relations you are doing as to what school it should be in. Maybe it should be in both schools.

    Public relations extends beyond communication in my mind. How can you plan a campaign for a business when you have no idea how a business runs? Or how can you deliver a message if you don’t know how to communicate?

  16. elwhite2 says:

    I definitely think PR should be a part of the Journalism School. Some of you say that it shouldnt be, however, what other school do you think it should be a part of? As PR practitioners, we need to be excellent writers, who know how to tell stories, communicate effectively, and edit our writing as well. However, some of the classes are just ridiculous. If we are receiving a degree in public relations, don’t you think we should have taken more than three PR classes? Also, another thing I have to argue is that for the journalism related courses we have taken, the teachers know nothing about Public Relations. Most of them work at newspapers and have no clue how their material relates to our degrees.However, I do think that they will be changing the curriculum after hearing us PR students complain so much. We were basically the guinea pigs. All I have to say is that I hope we have been well prepared for the real world and that we are not missing out on some important PR skills….

  17. mlmyers says:

    There was another student in my JMC 301 class who was a PR major, we were the only two, and her advisor told her to hold off on the PR internship she landed until the next semester because she would not have time since 301 was such a strenuous class. I always think of this example when the discussion of PR being in the journalism school is brought up. I agree with most of you that writing is one of the main parts of PR and that being in the j-school has tremendously increased my writing ability, but having a student hold off on their career plans to take a course not in their major is crossing the line. But I can understand the placement of PR in the Cronkite School. PR is still in the process of making a name for itself in the career spectrum. Think back to our first day of class when we were asked what PR is. Now think of how that definition has changed just in these couple of months. Well I feel like in the grand scheme of things many people are not 100 percent sure what PR is or of its importance. I do believe that someday PR will have its own college, which unfortunately won’t help us, but who knows, maybe the school will be named after one of you!

  18. gbohulan says:

    That would be awesome if they named it after me! I do agree that we should be taught better how businesses are generally ran, but clients all operate differently. I feel like I’m just learning as I go, and I know that won’t change once I graduate.

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