Is Disruption the Future of Journalism Education?

Ron Reason thinks so. The current T. Anthony Pollner Distinguished Professor is here to help students understand the media landscape of the 21st century — and prepare them to start their careers with clear eyes.
“Pretty much any place worth working at is engaged in a conversation about change,” Reason said. “Students are going to need the skills to think through how change is happening.”
Reason arrived on campus in January to teach Critical Thinking about Design and Disruption at the UM School of Journalism. As its title suggests, the course takes a real-time look at how publications are reinventing themselves. He is also mentoring staff at the Montana Kaimin, UM’s student newspaper, which is going through a redesign process.
Reason is the first Pollner professor focused on the business side of the industry, but he won’t be the last. Thanks to private support, each spring semester the School of Journalism will host a Pollner professor with experience in the visual, digital or business side of journalism. That’s in addition to the fall semester Pollner professorship, which has writing and reporting as its focus.
Reason works with a group of reporters at the Kaimin

As a consultant, Reason has advised dozens of publications worldwide on how to meet the demands of the digital age. As a journalist, he’s experienced firsthand how newsrooms have changed over the last 30 years. He’s eager to share his experiences with students.
“I’m presenting a class that is very unlike anything else that the journalism school has offered, to my knowledge,” he said. “It’s really a birds-eye view on all the exciting and scary things that are happening in the industry at the moment.”
“This new (Pollner professorship) program is a terrific addition,” said UM J-School Dean Larry Abramson. “Reason’s recent experience with industry provides an important link to the tough design decisions that news outlets face today.”
The Pollner Professorship was created in honor of T. Anthony Pollner, a UM graduate and Kaimin editor who died in a motorcycle accident. Support from his family and friends made this program possible.
Pictured above: Ron Reason (in red) works with student journalists at a Kaimin staff debriefing.