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To devote the Nieman bequest money to an undergraduate Department of Journalism has some possibilities, but a greater number of disadvantages. Perhaps the money would be sufficient to set up a department in the College, to provide professors, section men, and tutors. It might be modeled after any of the present large undergraduate departmnts, although for several years at least, it could not hope for very great enrollment.
Whether it is desirable to have students in college concentrate in journalism is open to argument. Courses in this field would be almost certain to conflict in some way with the English Department, and might even be placed officially under its aegis. But to find students sufficiently mature to be able to study journalism without previous college background would be difficult. Good journalism requires background; and it is therefore more adaptable as a graduate school function than as a college department. However, it should be said in dealing with this alternative that some additional English courses on elementary journalism and its origins might be a welcome change for the curriculum of many students.
Still another use for the bequest might be for theoretical research--the compiling of statistics comparing the size, records, trends, and literary standards of modern journalism. This scheme has its merits, chief of which is that such investigation could shed a great light on some features of the field about which data is totally lacking today. No phase of journalism need be immune--advertising methods, combinations, press service, news gathering, editorial policies, even paper itself--and on all these subjects additional research might easily be construed as helping "elevate the standards."
Moreover, research is highly favored in the University's own policy. But the main drawback to such a plan is the danger that it might deteriorate into just another laboratory, turning out endless graphs and abstract curves which will make little impression on journalists trained to look for concrete evidence. Compared to the possibilities mentioned thus far, however, this alternative seems to be more plausible for Harvards' purpose.
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