Journalism and Mass Communications, College of


Date of this Version



Published in A Heretic in American Journalism Education and Research: Malcolm S. Maclean, Jr., Revisited, edited by Luigi Manca and Gail W. Pieper. Columbia, MO: Stephenson Research Center, University of Missouri–Columbia, 2001.


In a recent essay Stephen Reese (1999, 70), chair of the Department of Journalism at the University of Texas, assessed the media today and analyzed the condition of journalism education and concluded that foundations and media corporations are having more influence on journalism programs than at any time in the history of journalism education. As I read the essay by Reese, I noted many observations that Malcolm MacLean made three decades ago, but nowhere was MacLean cited. In fact, I do not believe Reese could have described the influence of media as a new problem if he had known about the influence of media on the program at the School of Journalism at the University of Iowa. For example, Reese (1999, 71) asserts that "criticism of journalism education is tied to the crisis of legitimacy within journalism itself." The media were doing well during the 1970s when the School of Journalism at the University of Iowa faced remarkable challenges.

The tone of the essay Reese wrote is not as respectful of the role of media in our society as are the writings of MacLean. I believe MacLean's radical theories on learning and severe criticism of media derived from his deep appreciation of the role of media and of education in our society. I concluded that Reese's critique of corporations and foundations was because of his sense that the academic world is under siege and not strong enough to resist. In contrast, MacLean proposed changes in the School of Journalism at the University of Iowa because he wanted to improve media, not allow it to continue to decline. Moreover, he acted out of great respect for what education can do in our society. The changes he administered were discussed and approved by the faculty with little fear about how media would respond. Indeed, MacLean often was astonished at how little corporate leaders knew about media and education, particularly journalism education.