Alligator clips. They’re completely obsolete now, but when I graduated from journalism school that was the first thing I realized no one had taught me about.
Other things: networking. How to find a media job when media jobs are almost never posted. How to freelance. How to search for publicly available (though deeply buried) information. I could go on.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy for the things I did learn. I’m a better writer than I was before I went to j-school, and I’m much better at organizing my thoughts into a coherent pattern. I even developed a certain facility for critical thinking. But I started compiling the list of grievances against my j-school education early into my first media job (which was with a national wire service that had hardly received mention in my classrooms, and was not spoken of positively when it was mentioned) and conversations about the state of the industry with my former classmates almost always include a tangential foray into the shortcomings of the program as we experienced it.
But apparently it’s not just us, and it wasn’t just then. In this blog post in The Guardian, a newly minted journalist mentions a few of the things he wished he’d learned, some of which overlap with the things I wish I’d learned, and some which echo the things I wish I knew now. Interesting read.
*Alligator clips are like little metal clothespins with teeth that back in the Stone Age enabled broadcast reporters to connect their tape (!) recorders to a phone line in order to feed tape back to the newsroom. They also (and I protest that I have no personal knowledge of this) could be used as roach clips in a pinch.