Why Missouri j-school should drop its MacBook requirement

PBS MediaShift
Recent Missouri School of Journalism grad David Teeghman advises incoming freshman not to buy a MacBook from the university bookstore even though it’s required.

You would be better off buying a cheap Windows laptop from Dell, uploading all of your documents to Google Docs and Dropbox and your music to Amazon Cloud Drive or Google Music Beta, and downloading the free Open Office suite of software. That will save you more than $800 on the cheapest package from the bookstore, and more than $2,000 on the most expensive one.

Teeghman says he never had a journalism class assignment that couldn’t have been done on a Windows-based computer. “There is no piece of software or functionality in the line of Apple laptops that is essential to a journalism student at Mizzou or any other journalism school,” he writes. Teeghman discloses that he uses a MacBook — it was a graduation gift from his parents — and that he carries it around in a Missouri School of Journalism-branded backpack.

It’s a great computer, and given a choice between a Windows-based computer and a MacBook I would go with the MacBook every time. But I have been blessed to come from a family that can afford such extravagances. Not every potential journalism student is so lucky, nor should they be.

> 2009: Missouri j-school tells students to get an iPod touch or iPhone
> 2011: Missouri student paper editorializes against possible iPad requirement

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000216157262 Anna Celia Gallegos

    As a college student who uses a Macbook, I find it much more convenient for journalism related purposes – especially if you have to use CS5 or Final Cut Pro. However, forcing students to purchase one is too much, considering that most newsrooms only use Windows. 

  • http://twitter.com/Merennulli Merennulli

    Dell currently isn’t putting out the best value in laptops (seems to be Toshiba right now, but YMMV). That said, this is exactly what these students need to hear. Once Mac switched its hardware to Intel, whatever validity there might have been to “Mac is better” died. Now Mac is a mix of high end and midrange PC parts for more than a Windows PC with all high end parts, running a customized version of a free OS.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones3 David Lloyd-Jones

    Somebody should bring back the old Commodore 100 — good ol’ Queen Street Typewriter Company, of Toronto.  The damn thing was unbreakable, had a great keyboard, it did what little it did in a trustworthy way, and it cost zilch.
    With modern technology inside it ought to sell millions, and if you gave it a bullet-proof titanium back it would be just the thing for every journalist in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Whomsoeverstan the US decides to straighten out next.

  • http://www.facebook.com/david.lloydjones3 David Lloyd-Jones

    I’m sorry to have a warning about Dell, because I am a big Michael Dell fan: I own a Dell desktop that I bought a couple of years ago, and it’s a bitch to repair. The fan on the power supply ( a built-in fan inside the machine, not the main fan, which is cheap and easy to repair) went bad after two years, and it is impossible to replace, except by sending the machine in to Dell, which is expensive and a pain.  I’m switching all the innards to a new case, which comes with a power supply built in, as this is cheaper and easier.
    Second complaint: the printer that come with the machine was cheap, either zero or $29.95, but it’s a Gillette ploy, an attempt to make me buy cartridges fro Dell for forty or fifty bucks apiece.  Big time not good.
    So a used Dell might be an OK deal if it holds up.  A new Dell might not be that great a deal over the long haul.

  • http://twitter.com/tdankmyer Taylor Dankmyer

    again, not really a requirement. It’s just strongly encouraged. -Signed, a current mizzou journalism student.

  • Anonymous

    Totally disagree.

    It’s how good you look doing it.

  • http://profiles.google.com/rp509855 Rod Paul

    I went through college using a CP/M Kaypro; upgraded to a DOS machine (NEC Ultralite – a ‘netbook’ before there was a ‘Net) when I graduated. First newsroom i was in got its first Macs a couple years later – and I still could send a story in from the DOS machine. Biggest difficulty I every had was bouncing between a Mac and an OS2, later Windows box at home - solved that by using the single button Mac mouse with the left hand and the other with the right … and training my brain to use commands appropriate to where the mouse was.

    Later at a Gannett pub, it was all Windows, no Macs.

    These days, I put a publication together on XP and InDesign.

    It’s not about the machine or the OS – it’s about whether you can use it to do what you need to do.

  • http://twitter.com/stevemullis Steve Mullis

    In the three journalism organizations I’ve worked for, 95% of work was done on Windows-based PCs and programs. Most in-house programs (of which news orgs often use for CMS, editing, budgeting, etc.) are Windows-based. This requirement serves no purpose than to make the students spend more money than necessary and fool them into thinking they’re going to go to news orgs all running on MacBook Pros (if they’re lucky enough to land a job).

  • http://www.facebook.com/paul.robichaux Paul Robichaux

    And this makes perfect sense from the POV of the university’s IT staff: their experience probably indicates that the cost of supporting a student on OS X is considerably less than the cost of supporting a student on Windows.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t like requirements that make me buy anything. But I will say this: every publication I’ve worked for has used only Macs. With that in mind, there’s something to be said for having a solid understanding of OS X before entering the workplace.

  • Anonymous

    This is the dumbest requirment I have ever heard of at a college — and the most costly. Almost viciously so.

  • Daniel Obregon

    According to the policy on their website, it doesn’t look like students are required to do anything, except have a wireless laptop.  They are, however, strongly encouraged to consider an Apple. http://journalism.missouri.edu/undergraduate/computer-requirements.html

  • B. Dex

    … and you could still save $500 by going with something else.

  • Anonymous

    Let’s be honest, if you’re going into journalism in the first place, you’re not making the greatest financial decisions in the world, so spring for the Mac. But make it a Mac Air…