Macs in J Schools

Every picture tells a story. Apple presented this one during the October 2008 launch of unibody MacBook Pros. So many Macs among so many students seems outta sorts. Where are the Windows laptops? The students and Mac laptops go so oddly together.

The day after I returned from the MacBook event, I tracked down the photo’s source: A group of students attending the University of Missouri School of Journalism. But I don’t know who is the photographer.

University of Missouri’s J school requires students to have wireless-capable laptops and strongly recommends they use Macs rather than Windows PCs, because of Apple’s iLife:

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.

In May 2009, the school added a new requirement: All incoming freshman must have either an iPhone or iPod. Supposedly, the requirement won’t be enforced. Oh? Then why have it at all? The point: Apple now has a virtual technology lock on journalists coming out of the University Missouri. The school isn’t isolated in its Mac recommendations. For example, The Journalism School at Columbia University equally recommends Macs or Windows PCs, except: “For students involved in multimedia applications, we recommend using a Mac. Macs come with a variety of basic video, audio and photo editing tools.”

Today’s bloggers and journalists often must produce audio, photo, video and written content for the same stories. Real-time production demands tools that produce good content quickly, and many journalism schools have decided iLife is the right choice. The question: Is there Mac bias in the news media? I say yes.