Ithaca College may have its fair share of debatably frustrating academic issues in its journalism department, but several journalism schools across the country are getting it right, passing my “Is This Worthwhile Education” test with flying colors.

The colleges I’m talking about are networked together in a really exciting initiative called News 21, a national endeavor to reinvigorate journalism schools and be truly groundbreaking in the way that they explore important, pertinent issues with in-depth reporting, investigation and interviewing. News 21 is one of the few organizations involving my generation that not only recognizes that the face of storytelling and reporting is changing, but is also actually doing something explicitly awesome to ensure that they can keep up with the times as journalists.

The universities involved with News 21, an effort sponsored largely by two major foundations, include eight from all parts of the country: Arizona State, Berkeley, Columbia, Maryland, North Carolina, Northwestern, Southern Carolina and Syracuse.

The website featuring the work that’s been completed so far by the universities is, for lack of a more descriptive word, beautiful. Its visual presentation is inviting and stunning, with some standouts being the “California in Crisis” page, bedecked with postcards from different regions of California struggling with an array of difficult issues, and the “Brave Old World” superstory, which boasts incredible photography and heart-wrenching video about what it’s like to grow old and physically deteriorate. I honestly get emotional reading and watching these stories. Syracuse’s “Apart from War,” which details the lasting consequences of today’s war veterans across the country, is particularly powerful.

News 21, with its gorgeous multimedia features and compelling storytelling, is a real inspiration to student journalists, showing us how to think outside the box and engage our readers (and viewers, and listeners) in something exciting and important that makes us care. 

Is it bad that I’m more than a little jealous I don’t go to one of the News 21 schools?

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