Editorial: Journalism school should drop iPhone or iPod touch requirement

In-state tuition: $8,500. Average cost for room and board: $8,170. Lowest cost for the MacBook bundle required by the School of Journalism: $1,296.95. Median annual salary of an entry-level journalist: $30,259. Drowning under student debt upon graduation: priceless.

In addition to the massive amounts of money each student is already paying for college, all incoming freshmen in the journalism school will be required to buy an iPod touch or an iPhone starting this fall. School of Journalism Associate Dean Brian Brooks said this would be an advantage for all future journalism students.

Brooks said the new technology would be used for Journalism 1010 (Career Explorations in Journalism) and Journalism 1100 (Principles of American Journalism), two introductory classes in the school. Brooks also said one of the main uses for the technology requirement is to make lectures available for download by students.

But surely there is a way for professors who record lectures to post them online in order for their students to watch later. Some professors for other classes, such as Chemistry 1100, already put their lectures online and students do not need to buy special technology just to watch it.

Any incoming student who buys their MacBook from TigerTech will be able to get a rebate on the iPod touch. Any other student will have to pay at least $199 to get the new required technology. Requiring this is essentially another way the journalism school is ensuring all students buy their MacBooks from TigerTech. The school already appears to be in Apple's pocket. This is just a backdoor way to ensure students are buying MacBooks instead of those godforsaken personal computers.

The whole premise behind requiring the most expensive new technology out there is inherently classist. Many students are already scraping by just to get to college, and this adds more to their burdens.

The journalism school brings in the most out-of-state students of any other program, so MU is already making a good chunk of change off of the journalism school. Even if the school does not directly benefit from requiring Apple products, the decision to have events such as an iPhone application contest at MU helps both the school and Apple. The two institutions are so closely intertwined that Apple uses a picture in their advertisements taken in Cornell Hall of all the journalism students using their MacBooks.

Since the iPhone will be required for the most introductory classes, this will also have a direct impact on any students who decide journalism is not for them. While the MacBook would at least still be able to serve them in any field they decide to study, the iPhone will turn into an unnecessary toy they were required to buy.

When the Missouri Students Association has made a point of doing their best to lower student fees for next semester and Gov. Jay Nixon has vowed to not raise tuition costs at public universities, we do not feel now is the best time to add more technology to students' bills.

Apparently the journalism school has not gotten the memo, but the country is in a recession. Many students are in a position where they are lucky to be able to afford MU, let alone whatever new Apple product the journalism faculty has fallen in love with.

And the Apple computer system is hardly an industry standard. Many newsrooms run solely on Windows-based computers.

We also have a problem with the idea that fancy new gadgets are necessary to conduct good journalism. There's no need to require us to buy a gadget that can be replaced with a simple notebook and pen.

Moreover, we have a big problem with using the journalism school curriculum to push one brand. Stop focusing on the newest Apple gadgets. We understand technology is changing and we have to learn new things in order to adapt to it, but we also need to learn the fundamentals of quality journalism.

There is nothing unique about the iPod touch or iPhone as compared to other mp3 players or even our laptops. We love that the journalism school wants to encourage us to adopt new technology, but it is not necessary to make it a requirement.

Please just require the basics and let us take it from there. After all, if a simple notebook was enough for Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, it should be good enough for the School of Journalism.

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