IT is generally believed that the first course in newspaper writing in the United States was the one instituted at the University of Michigan during the academic year of 1890-91. The course was devised and taught by Fred Newton Scott ('84, Ph.D. '89), Assistant Professor of Rhetoric, under the title of Rapid Writing, and afforded two hours of credit in the Department of English and Rhetoric. The distinctive feature of this pioneering course was its attempt to approximate the conditions of the "city-room" in the preparation of news and editorial "copy."
Rapid Writing was dropped from the curriculum in 1893-94, and no further journalistic instruction was offered until 1903, when the courses in rhetoric were set up as a separate department with Professor Scott as its head. At this time journalism was revived in Rhetoric 13 (Newspaper Writing), a course which was continued, with modest additions, until a special program in journalism was announced in 1916.
The first addition to Rhetoric 13, which was concerned with "theory and practice," was Engineering English 2 (Technical Journalism), in the Department of Engineering, first taught in 1904-5 by Instructor Royal Albert Abbott (Ohio State '00, A.M. ibid. '02) under Professor Scott's supervision. Rhetoric 15 (Reporting and Editorial Work) was added to the curriculum in 1905. This course, open only "to editors and reporters of student publications and those with special permission," was continued the second semester as Rhetoric 16. The following year Rhetoric 13 was taught by Assistant Professor Joseph Morris Thomas ('98, Ph.D. '10) and Rhetoric 15 and 16 were taught by Lewis Burtron Hessler (Pennsylvania '05, Ph.D. ibid. '16), Instructor in Rhetoric. In 1907 Professor Scott resumed the teaching of Rhetoric 13 and Professor Thomas assumed direction of Rhetoric 15 and 16 for one year, after which they were dropped.
The 1909-10 Calendar of the University contained the following statement (pp. 212-13):
Credit will be granted for work on the student or University publications, provided that such work is elected as regular courses in the Department of Rhetoric and is done under the immediate direction of a member of that department.
The administration of the course in Journalism is entrusted to a standing committee of the Faculty… Upon graduation a special certificate will be given to students who, Page 623in covering the requirements for the Bachelor's degree, shall have completed a program of studies approved by this committee.
In 1921-22 the Department of Rhetoric became officially known as the Department of Rhetoric and Journalism. The curriculum was increased to twelve courses, and Edwin Grant Burrows (Cornell '13) and Donal Hamilton Haines ('09) were appointed as instructors on the journalism faculty. As Professor of Rhetoric and Journalism, Brumm became the director of the curriculums in journalism.
The expanded curriculums in journalism included the following specialized courses: Elements of Journalism, Interpretative News Writing, Editorial Practice, Special Feature and Magazine Articles, History and Principles of Journalism, Seminar in Newspaper Problems, Newspaper Editing, Newspaper Ethics, Editorial Writing, the Country Newspaper, Written Criticism, and Advertisement Writing. The following year Magazine Writing (Journalism 43 and 44) was added to the list of courses, increasing their number to fourteen.
During the year 1924-25 Wesley Henry Maurer (A.B. Missouri '21, B.S. Public and Bus. Admin. ibid. '22, B.J. ibid. '22) was appointed to an instructorship in journalism to substitute for Professor Brumm, on academic leave. At this time the course in newspaper ethics was absorbed by the course in newspaper problems. In the fall of 1925 Howard Palfrey Jones (Columbia '21) joined the faculty in journalism, taking the place left vacant by the resignation of Mr. Burrows. Jones continued on the faculty until 1928-29, when, resigning, he was succeeded by Robert W. Desmond (Wisconsin '22). A year later, Desmond accepted an appointment to an instructorship at the University of Minnesota, and Wesley H. Maurer was recalled to the faculty in journalism.
Journalism became a separate department of instruction in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts in 1929-30, with Professor John L. Brumm at its head. Its offering of courses was again increased to fourteen, each course carrying three hours of credit. In 1932-33 two one-hour orientation courses were added as Journalism 1 and 2. Editorial Direction (Journalism 110) was established in 1935-36, and Specialized Reporting (Journalism 112) was first given in 1936-37.
The professional curriculums in journalism, carrying forty-six hours of credit, now embrace the following seventeen courses: the American Newspaper (two courses), Principles of Journalism, Advanced News Writing, Copyreading and Editing, Special Article Writing, Editorial Writing, Critical Writing and Reviewing, Advertisement Writing, Editorial Policy and Management, the Community Newspaper, Magazine Writing (two courses), Editorial Direction, the Development of American Journalism, Law of the Press, and Special Reporting. The faculty consists of Professor Brumm, Associate Professor Maurer, and Assistant Professor Haines.
Practice in writing and editing the various types of newspaper articles is afforded Page 624by The Michigan Journalist, a weekly publication instituted by Maurer in 1925 and fostered by the Department of Journalism as a laboratory newspaper (see pp. 625-26). Besides the contact with newspapers afforded by the Michigan Journalist, which is printed without cost to the University by various newspaper companies in the state, the department maintains relations with editors and publishers through the annual conventions of the University Press Club of Michigan. This professional organization of newspaper workers was instituted by Professor Brumm in 1918 for the purpose of bringing the press of the state and the University into a close relationship of mutual helpfulness. The club, embracing the Associated Press, the League of Small Dailies, and the Michigan Press Association, has a membership of about three hundred editors and publishers.
Broad educational interests, with statewide ramifications, are served through the sponsorship, by the Department of Journalism, of the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association, an organization of high-school editors and their teacher advisers. This group was first brought together by Professor Brumm in 1921. Its annual meetings, covering a period of three days, are attended by some six hundred high-school students and teachers. The purpose of the convention is to foster superior practice in secondary-school journalism and to encourage the delegates to continue their education through college and into the various professional callings.
Education for journalism, as developed at the University of Michigan, embraces approximately one-fourth of the 120 credit hours in a four-year course leading to the bachelor of arts degree in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. These specialized courses are restricted to the junior and the senior years. The programs prescribed for the certificate in journalism include background courses comprising the cultural interests served by literature, languages, and the arts, and the critical interests inhering in the physical and the social sciences.
In dealing with education for journalism, one must realize that there is no such thing as an established and authoritative newspaper practice, in the sense of a rule-of-thumb procedure, as in law or medicine. In the range and the quality of its offerings, journalism is as varied as are individual newspapers. Each publication has its own management, its own editor or editors, its own corps of reporters, its own policy, and its own reading public. But regardless of their differences in personnel and substance, newspapers are alike in the purpose they are presumed to serve — the direction of news and opinion in the interest of public enlightenment. A newspaper, therefore, must be judged by the service it performs as a public intelligencer. It may prove acceptable to large numbers of undifferentiated readers for reasons other than this public service, but as a newspaper it can justify itself on no other grounds.
Journalism, more than any other instrumentality, must furnish the facts on which the judgments affecting the common weal may be formed. The journalist, in this view of a changing social order, will practice the art of compelling a popular interest in matters involving government, industry, science, health, justice, and myriads of other activities and forces that must be controlled and directed for the common good. Uncovering the facts, all the facts that are relevant to an intelligently ordered way of life — this is the responsibility of the professional journalist. And the training for this exacting service cannot be left to chance or to selfish interests, but must be scientifically devised and administered by public education.
Page 625It is this power to detect the real news and to record it so that readers shall be interested in it and shall direct their lives intelligently with reference to it that education for journalism seeks to develop in the intending journalist.