J-school student told not to blog about class

A few weeks ago, I came across a guest post at the MediaShift blog at PBS, in which Alana Taylor — a journalism student at New York University who also writes for the blog Mashable — talked about how disappointed she was with her classes at the university, and how “old thinking” permeated the school. Among other things, she mentioned that she was the only class member who had a blog, and that her teacher was encouraging students to think primarily about getting jobs at newspapers, and that the general sense at the school was that working online wasn’t a viable career choice.

It wasn’t a uniformly negative piece, nor was it solely about Taylor’s teacher — about whom she said some nice things as well, including the fact that she at least knew that blogging could be a paying job, and could lead to “real” journalism jobs. And it didn’t say much about the other students in the class, apart from some comments that a fellow classmate made after Alana asked her what she thought about the class during a break. That’s clearly not how her teacher saw it, however: according to an update by Mark Glaser at MediaShift, the NYU instructor called Taylor into her office and told her not to blog, Twitter or otherwise write about the class.

She then reportedly read the post aloud in class, asked what the other students thought, and when there was no response said: “OK, we can all agree that there will be no more blogging or Twittering about the class” (according to MediaShift, other students later said they agreed with the content of the original post but didn’t want to say anything in class). Later, the instructor told Glaser that she had simply asked Taylor not to blog or Twitter *during* class, and that she had no problem with Alana writing about the class, but that she would require anyone doing so to ask the other students first before they quoted them on a blog.

Obviously, there are issues when it comes to students blogging about their classes. If someone was continually posting disruptive things or singling out specific students or posting defamatory material or some kind, then I would think a teacher would want to address that — preferably in as transparent a manner as possible. But a blanket blogging ban? What kind of signal does that send? On Alana’s blog, she says that several journalism schools used the MediaShift post to start a discussion about blogging and journalism, which I think is a far better response.

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