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University Makes iPod Touch/iPhone Required Material for Journalism Students



ipod-touch-5University of Mossouri’s famed school of journalism is requiring incoming freshman to buy an Apple iPod Touch or iPhone. I’m all for using technology in the classroom, but this requirement smells like pure Apple fanboyism.

According to this news article, 99.5% of the journalism students use Macs. The university says that students need an iPod Touch or iPhone to play back the lectures it syndicates to iTunes. Apparently impossible to do on an iPod shuffle, PC or MacBook.

…the Apple devices, which start at $200 apiece, were made official requirements for the benefit of students on financial aid.

“If it’s required, it can be included in your financial-need estimate,” he told the Missourian. “If we had not required it, they wouldn’t be able to do that.”

In associate dean Brian Brooks’ world, this requirement doesn’t cost a cent because Apple’s offered college students a free iPod Touch with every MacBook purchase.

I think Brooks should guide students to the most affordable tools that can get the job done and leave the fanboyism to the students.

update: Here’s a photo of a University of Missouri journalism lecture hall that’s been floating around the Internet for quite a while. I wonder if long-term exposure to Macs in school is   part of the reason for mass media’s adoration of all things Apple…




  1. blademonkey

    05/11/2009 at 6:20 pm

    There goes that journalistic objectivity.

  2. Tim

    05/11/2009 at 6:53 pm

    Lets point out for starters that Apple’s offer is free after mail-in rebate, not free and included.

    I don’t see the big deal over this. The concept is that the campus made the requirement for an mp3 and for financial aid estimates chose the most expensive ones. While the university may not be making it clear than an iPhone/iPod touch are not the only models that can be used for class (I have not seen a copy of the letter that is sent to students and the details do not appear to be poseted online), giving students an extra $300-500 of possible financial aid is a great benefit, especially considering most students already have an mp3 and all have a computer.

    That said, it must also be admitted that the Computer Requirements are incredibly Mac-biased and even make harsh and untrue statements towards Windows.

    Overall, I don’t see that the “requirement” is a bad decision, as long as it is made clear that the mp3 player is not truly required…

  3. Rhett

    05/11/2009 at 6:57 pm

    It was reported that the students are NOT actually mandated to have an iPod Touch. Like Tim said the reason for Missouri’s decision was based on financial aid reasons. Students were most likely going to get them anyway, so why not let financial aid cover it.

  4. Xavier

    05/11/2009 at 7:23 pm

    @Rhett College finances are tough, but there’s a limited amount of financial aid to go around. I would rather see subsidized loans, grants, scholorships, etc. go towards things that students really need – food,tuition,etc.- rather than iPhones and MacBooks.

    Are MacBooks and iPhones excellent devices? Yes.

    Should some kids go without financial aid because others “need” an expensive MacBook and iPhone? No.

  5. Andrew

    05/11/2009 at 9:12 pm

    I think requiring a specific company’s item for school is wrong. Students should have a basic requirement for what is needed and let them get what is best for them. The time of having educated buyers is dieing with the younger generation following trends over what is needed and most likely better. I am not a fan of companies that lock people into a program and a more open product system should be encouraged in our schools.

  6. Tim

    05/11/2009 at 10:57 pm

    @Xavier – The point of the “requirement” is not that the additional financial aid goes to paying for the mp3 player, because it turns out that a significant majority of students already have an mp3 player and the rest can play the files on the laptop. The point is that the additional financial aid that is allotted to the students goes towards helping pay for tuition, books, room, and food (aka the expected costs).

  7. Sara Fauzia

    05/11/2009 at 11:21 pm

    A roomful of Macs… is this a highly publicized photograph (I know I’ve seen it before) or are such phenomenas photographed often? It looks frightening! Even one Windows computer would be a relief to see (I’d prefer a Linux, though of course you couldn’t tell from the exteriors except if there was a big Windows sticker or Tux emblazoned to identify it).


    05/11/2009 at 11:53 pm

    apple products have a long history in media, including newspapers, there is no wonder that apple is the company that “can do no wrong”…

  9. John in Norway

    05/12/2009 at 4:53 am

    Yet another reason why the human race isn’t going anywhere!
    Seriously though, call me old-fashioned, but I wouldn’t even contemplate going to a class without a Tablet PC. Laptops are so disrespectful to the teacher.

  10. JC

    05/12/2009 at 5:11 am

    How is it mandatory when the Associate Dean explicitly says, “You could use a Zune, for example”? This is an unusual use of the word “mandatory” with which I’m not aware.

  11. Sumocat

    05/12/2009 at 5:24 am

    Xavier, I think you’re missing the point that making it a “requirement” levels the playing field for their financial aid students. The students who can afford iPhones are enjoying benefits the others are not, such as social networking, photo and voice recording, constant communication, and instant research, which are quite an advantage in journalism. If this was another field, I’d say it was frivolous, but there is a sound argument for competitiveness here.

  12. JC

    05/12/2009 at 5:26 am

    Let me clarify before others do it for me. As other’s have stated, what they’ve done is make it such that they can cover the cost of a computer via financial aid. That may be encouraging the purchase of a Mac, but that’s not the same as making the purchase of a Mac mandatory. Also, Apple, in fact, does have back-to-school specials where they rebate the price of the out-going models of iPod when students buy a Mac. This is true not only in Brian Brooks’s world, but yours too.

    Furthermore, what the Missouri School of Journalism’s computer requirements say requirements is “The minimum is a wireless laptop with Microsoft Office installed. Most of the MU campus has easy wireless access.” They go on to encourage that you buy a Mac, but at no point to do they say that you must buy a Mac.

    (I should point out that they’ve had the computer requirement since 2005. Why is this news now? AFAICT, the requirement hasn’t changed a whit.)

    More importantly, you can use financial aid to pay off the cost of any computer. They only recommend that you buy a Mac. The only requirement is that you have a laptop capable of Wifi and runs Microsoft Office. (The Linux folk ought to be up in arms.) If you want to buy a HP dv2, it reads to me like they’ll be happen to cover it under financial aid.

    Mandatory means that you must do something. Buying a Mac is not mandatory. When news stories seem patently inflammatory, it’s always good to go straight to the source:

    • Xavier

      05/12/2009 at 9:19 am

      @JC a rebate is dependent on the purchase of a Mac. That does not equal free. That means you have to buy one of the more expensive notebooks on the market to get the “free’ iPod.
      The university does a little more than “encourage” MacBooks. Why the heck are journalism schools teaching future professionals how to edit movies w/iMovie and photos with iPhoto?
      Kids should be learning professional applications so they’ll be prepared for the real world. Good luck getting a TV production job or photo editing job with iPhoto on your resume. Back when I was in school we learned apps like QuarkXPress, Photoshop, etc.

      From the link:
      “Q. What brand or model should I buy?
      A. The faculty has designated Apple Computer as its preferred provider for two primary reasons: (1) Apple’s OS X operating system is based on Unix, which makes these computers far less susceptible to viruses than other computers. Viruses are a serious problem on university campuses. (2) Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro computers come bundled with iLife, a suite of applications ideal for learning the basics of photo editing, and audio and video editing. We’ll use those programs in several classes. Incoming students will receive information on recommended models and pricing in February of each year.

      Q. What if I prefer a Windows-based machine? A. That’s an option, but it’s one we do not recommend unless you plan to make a career of computer-assisted reporting. By the time you purchase photo, audio and video software for a PC, you probably will have spent more than you would if buying a comparable Apple Computer. Buy a PC if you prefer to do so, but make sure it is wireless and has Microsoft Office. Almost 100 percent of last year’s freshmen chose Apple computers. “


    05/12/2009 at 5:55 am

    as if that cant be done on some other phone or wireless enabled device?

  14. CLC

    05/12/2009 at 8:50 am


    These are supposed to be the objective, independent thinkers of society?!

  15. Charlie Chan

    06/08/2009 at 5:10 pm

    Where is the “University of Mossouri’s famed school of journalism”…smile

    And nice job on the photoshop photo!!!

  16. home made wind generators

    06/27/2009 at 8:05 am

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