Polo Rocha
Polo Rocha
In a column yesterday for The Badger Herald student newspaper, University of Wisconsin-Madison senior Polo Rocha began with a confession.

"I started reporting this column as a pissed off journalism student," Rocha wrote. "It’s not that I’m ungrateful for the wonderful classes and professors I’ve had at University of Wisconsin’s journalism school. It’s that my experience there lacked something."

What should students expect from their journalism school experience nowadays? And how much and how fast should journalism educators adapt to keep up with a media landscape which Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour recently called "the Wild West."

As Wintour shared in a New York Magazine interview, "You walk on the street and get a Starbucks and things have changed by the time you come back to the office."

Or the classroom. In Rocha's words, "Keeping a modern curriculum is an issue journalism schools across the country grapple with."

Rocha, 22, a political science and journalism double major, also grappled with this issue in his column. Built atop his own observations and interviews with current and former students, professors and professional journalists, he cited a number of core components that should be part of every modern journalism school.

Chief among them: more digital, more data, greater in-class publishing opportunities, more working journalists leading courses and more engaged students (in and out of the classroom).

Hemant Shah, director of UW-Madison's School of Journalism and Mass Communicationpraised Rocha's piece as "a nuanced analysis of the situation supported with solid evidence."

Based on evidence Rocha uncovered during his reporting, he confirmed, "I’m no longer as pissed off. Because here’s the good news: The j-school recognizes the issue and is finally doing something about it."

In the Q&A below, Rocha shares more about what administrators, professors and undergrads should be doing to survive and thrive in journalism's Wild West -- from the perspective of a (formerly) pissed off journalism student.