The MS in Journalism from Colombia, all nine-and-a-half-month programs, cost an estimated $121,290. Depending on where you’re looking, a journalist with a master’s degree earns on average from $36,000 to $58,000 after graduation. While Columbia can offer generous aid packages (73% of those who apply for scholarship aid receive funding, with a median award of about $40,000), students regularly struggle with debt. increase. For many young journalism aspirants, the training provided by Colombia is literally a luxury they can’t afford.
Cobb is well aware of this problem. He said he had always dreamed of becoming a journalist, but now regularly hears from students worried about what to do with their tuition fees or how much debt will be a burden. It’s not a new idea that we need to find another way to exist,” he says. “I don’t know what it is yet.”
Jelani Cobb did not attend Ironically, he’s very aware of that. Born William Anthony Cobb in Queens, New York, he learned to write from his father, an electrical engineer named Willie Lee Cobb, who received a third-grade education, but put his children’s education first. Jelani says he remembers his father’s big hand swallowing his little one at home when he learned the alphabet.
Cobb was the youngest of four children in his family, but the only one whose parents lived together. He went to Howard University, but it took him seven years to finish his undergraduate degree because he didn’t have the money to pay his tuition regularly. (He occupied the administration building to protest apartheid and appoint Lee Atwater to the university’s board of trustees.) At age 19, he adopted his middle name in Swahili for “full of power” or ” I changed it to Jelani, which means “strong”. Because “very serious reasons and not-so-serious reasons”. For starters, he wanted to reconnect with his African heritage, which was “forcibly taken away from many blacks in the United States.” And then there was the issue of his WAC, which is his initials. He didn’t want to be a “wac(k)” anymore.
If seven years at Howard weren’t enough, Cobb got a Ph.D. Rutgers history program. He owes his undergraduate mentorship and love of the physical space on college campuses to his continued interest in academics. The high school he attended, Jamaica High School, was designed by the same architect who designed Columbia. While preparing for his new job, Cobb recently came across an old personal statement about why he wanted to pursue a PhD in history. He wrote that he thought it would make him a better journalist.
Cobb has been trapped in academia for years, during which time he occasionally leaves the classroom to report. In 2018, he was a finalist in the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for “bringing context and clarity to racial issues, combining a deep knowledge of history with a deft reporter’s touch.” . Meanwhile, the gas mask Cobb wore while covering the Ferguson protests and the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement is preserved at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
His office is still a work in progress (“paint issues,” he says). His books are still in their boxes, downstairs in the old faculty office. A must-have item brought into the dean’s office is his elegant road his bike. His daughter Christine, now 5, plays with sprinklers.
“My daughter always calls me ‘dean,'” he says with a laugh. “She thinks it has a cloak.”
On-site reporting Working in academia isn’t always a natural fit. If you’ve been in a particular academic field long enough, you’re prone to certain kinds of circular thinking. All relatively minor problems are the result of uncontrolled structural factors.
Example: Journalism school is too expensive. This is especially true given that journalists cannot expect to make a lot of money after graduation. And it gets even worse when you consider where graduates end up right out of school. They either don’t want or can’t afford a low-paying local news job in a small city or town. So they stay in New York or Washington. This contributes to professional networks that promote job opportunities and elite biases in the media. These prejudices reduce the quality of reporting, reduce the number of people interested in journalism, and reduce the checks on scammers who steal money from the poor and give it to the rich. The big price for journalism schools is actually the crisis of capitalism.
For someone as proud of the political left as Cobb, that logic probably holds little wrong. But they can also be paralyzing: If everything requires a complete disassembly of our wider system, what do we do while we wait for the revolution?
Cobb eschews that logic in order to examine the issue in a way befitting the college he leads. Journalism school is too expensive. That means you need to raise money to get it cheap.
Besides cost issues, There is the question of what nine months in this highly intensive place can teach students. Indeed, it helps them build a certain skill set. Reporting and interviewing methods. how to write clearly; how to submit a FOIA request; And it certainly connects students to professional networks and to coveted internships and jobs. Cobb also focuses on historical background often lacking in young journalists. I want them to have the knowledge. Also, although he is a liberal columnist, he says that students are often “surprised” by his commitment not to impose personal views on his readers.
“One of the clichés of Dr. Cobb’s class is, ‘The information you have is less important than the information you don’t have,'” says Cobb.