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Let’s listen in as Inspector Gregory of Scotland Yard picks Sherlock Holmes’ brain in the short story “Silver Blaze” by A. Conan Doyle. The inspector speaks first:

“Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”

“To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”

“The dog did nothing in the night-time.”

“That was the curious incident.”

Sometimes it’s the dog that doesn’t bark, the thing that’s supposed to happen but doesn’t, that merits scrutiny.

As a serious dog lover and the proud owner of a black Lab and a basenji, I know that pets can sometimes be unpredictable. But they also move in their circles with as much regularity as the planets in their orbits. If Hailey and Chance don’t ask for a walk shortly after dawn, I know something must be seriously wrong.

So imagine my reaction over the last year as potential students flooded the Scripps School of Journalism with inquiries about the master of science and doctoral programs. Scores of applications arrived before the Feb. 1, 2010, deadline for those seeking financial aid for the following fall. Dozens more trickled in over the next few months, including some who eventually received financial aid as a handful of offers unexpectedly became available.

Out of this process, the Scripps School will welcome 16 new master’s students and four new PhD students in fall 2010.

The reason this merits attention is that given the national eulogizing over the “death” of the news media, it may strike some observers as surprising that interest in journalism graduate studies is stronger than ever. And it’s not just at Scripps. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Columbia University, the University of North Carolina, and the University of Maryland also reported heightened interest in their journalism graduate programs for the year just concluded.

At the Scripps School, students in both the undergraduate and graduate programs know they will get a solid grounding in the skills of the news media and the new media. They learn to communicate in new ways, using new platforms. And at the graduate level, they gain the added benefit of doing cutting-edge research about the science of mass communication and how the field is changing. This gives them the knowledge and flexibility to change with the industry while others lag behind.

As the media continue to evolve, our grad students remain grounded in the rich tradition of media theories and practice, but gain the cognitive skills to assess and shape the future.

Let the pundits howl and bark about the future of the news media. Scripps continues to quietly run with the big dogs.

Mike Sweeney, Scripps graduate director

June 23, 2010

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