ERIC Number: EJ927166
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Reference Count: N/A
A Brief History of Anti-Intellectualism in American Media
Claussen, Dane S.
Academe, v97 n3 p8-13 May-Jun 2011
Standard media coverage of higher education hasn't changed that much since the 1940s, and it doesn't serve the core functions of higher education well. US news media could not maintain their anti-intellectualism without widespread public acceptance, but schools of journalism must accept their share of the blame. US journalists historically came from bluecollar backgrounds; nineteenth-century newspapers were staffed by one or two college-graduate editors and high school-dropout reporters. The percentage of US journalists with college degrees did not reach 50 percent until about 1970 but has kept increasing since then. Today, close to 100 percent of journalists have bachelors' degrees and well over 50 percent have journalism degrees. Journalism schools thus had a historic opportunity to become a pro-intellectual force in US mass media. They largely failed. Recently, journalism-school curricula have become more anti-intellectual, as courses in media history, media management, and public-affairs reporting have been marginalized or eliminated. In their place have come an explosion of courses, majors, and endowed chairs in sports journalism, sports information and public relations, sports marketing, and even sports management; in e-commerce; and in web design, animation, computer games, and other fields that involve both communication and technology. If US higher education's future is dependent on mass public opinion, that mass public opinion is largely dependent on the news media, and journalism is a counterintuitively anti-intellectual profession staffed primarily by graduates of anti-intellectual journalism schools, it is no surprise that public funding of higher education was declining "before" the Great Recession, that graduation rates barely creep up, and that what members of the general public know about universities is usually limited to their semiprofessional sports programs (which are incorrectly assumed to be profitable). The author contends that US colleges and universities, including their journalism schools, need to improve their products: their curricula and their graduates.
Descriptors: News Media, Mass Media Role, Anti Intellectualism, Journalism Education, Graduation Rate, Athletics, News Reporting, Educational Attainment, Public Relations, Economic Impact, Higher Education, Popular Culture, Politics of Education, Opinions
American Association of University Professors. 1012 Fourteenth Street NW Suite 500, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 800-424-2973; Tel: 202-737-5900; Fax: 202-737-5526; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: http://www.aaup.org
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United States