Letter to the Editor: Medill accreditation decision does not serve students

I write regarding your story, “Medill to not reapply for accreditation from national journalism council,” published May 1.

I have great respect for Northwestern, Medill, its faculty and its leadership. I have served on two Medill accrediting teams in recent years and have been impressed with the quality of education and the commitment to excellence that permeates the school. But, in my view, Medill is doing a great disservice to its students and alumni by withdrawing from the accreditation process.

Accreditation ensures a rigorous curriculum and education that prepares journalism and strategic communication students for success in the workplace. It instills the fundamental skills of the crafts as well as requires a well-rounded education outside the major. It insists on training of traditional skills — such as reporting — as well as contemporary digital skills. And it ensures that students have the critical-thinking skills necessary for the workplace.

More than 100 journalism and mass communication programs in the U.S. and overseas have accreditation from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications. New schools come forward seeking it every year. Our process is voluntary and our standards have changed with the times to allow students even more flexibility in pursuing their academic interests. We support innovation in curriculum, teaching and applying technology to our fields. In fact, many of the programs nationally regarded as among the most innovative are ACEJMC-accredited. These range from Arizona State University and the University of Southern California to the University of Florida, Temple University and many others.

We provide valuable services such as listings of graduation rates of accredited schools. Our reports are public, and students and parents can compare the schools in detail side-by-side.

Our industries have changed, and accrediting has changed to keep pace. As a hiring editor, one of the first details I check when a resume crosses my desk is whether or not the student attended an accredited program. I do so because I know the students have received the best preparation possible.

Peter Bhatia, president of ACEJMC and editor of The Cincinnati Enquirer