PhNonsense

Saw this job listed on a website yesterday …

asuAs with many (most?) full-time college teaching positions, it really pisses me off.

Over the course of my 20 years in the business, I’ve met hundreds of amazing, awesome, fantastic, dazzling sports journalists. From Steve Rushin and Howard Bryant to Steve Cannella and Jonathan Eig to Bob Ley and Jemele Hill—on and on and on and on. They’re the best of the best of the best at what they do. They have tons of contacts; loads of experience. They’re incredible scribes and top-shelf reporters and professionals in every sense of the word.

None are eligible for the Arizona State job.

Why? Because they don’t have friggin’ PhDs.

Back at the University of Delaware in the early-to-mid 1990s, I had professors with PhDs. They all fit a similar profile: Spent a couple of years at a small-to-medium paper, returned to school for a PhD, landed a sweet university gig—never reported/wrote again. They possessed no contacts, no connections, no wealth of experience to offer the masses. They were mediocre (at best) writers who stood before chalkboards and blathered away about experiences they never had. They simply fit what the school wanted most: To be able to say [X] percent of our professors are doctors.

This is about me—and also not about me. I teach adjunct at Purchase College, and absolutely love it. I love sharing experiences, I love showing technique, I love guiding young writers. It’s a joy, and I think I’m pretty good at it. No matter how excellent I become, however, most places won’t hire me full-time without a PhD—a meaningless degree for a journalist or journalism teacher.

So who suffers most? Students. Because across America, as the journalism profession is evolving and changing and twisting and shifting, students are learning from those who—quite often—have no business teaching.

It’s a shame.

1 thought on “PhNonsense”

  1. I agree 100%. I graduated from Newhouse, and the professors I learned the most from were (with a few exceptions) the professors without PhDs. Fortunately, the school recognized the importance of this, and has committed to a certain number of professors of practice. Unfortunately, I think higher education as a whole is a long way away from abandoning the tenure track – how else to reward everyone from their PhDs?

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