"But in personal experience, leaving the newsroom to get an M.B.A. makes jumping back into the newsroom difficult; you don't fit in the traditional box, and with fewer news gathering resources there is less incentive to take a risk of an unconventional candidate," says Sheehan. "There may also be a perception of M.B.A.'s being too expensive [for struggling journalism outlets]."
"Nobody in their right mind would get an M.B.A. to become an editor," says Jonathan Knee, the director of the Media Program at Columbia Business School and coauthor of The Curse of the Mogul: What's Wrong with the World's Leading Media Companies.
Although some top editors—such as Martin Baron, the editor of The Boston Globe, and Subrata Chakravarty, a former assistant managing editor at Forbes—are M.B.A.'s, none of the more than 800 jobs currently advertised on JournalismJobs.com state that an M.B.A. is required or preferred.
Dan German, the vice president of human resources at the Journal Register Company, which operates local news products in 10 states, says his company doesn't actively recruit M.B.A.'s for content roles. "There are opportunities in the industry for M.B.A. candidates who understand the industry and grasp the change that is taking place and can articulate the necessary steps to transform the newspaper industry to a more digitally focused place," he says.
Time Inc. has always recruited M.B.A.'s, but the company has been finding that job applicants with M.B.A.'s are more qualified than those in the past, according to Bucky Keady, vice president of human resources. Time looks for applicants with specialties in tablet devices, smart phones, and multimedia, among other things, she says.
When David Zeeck, publisher of The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash., earned his M.B.A. from Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Mo., in the mid '80s, tablets and smart phones didn't exist.
But Zeeck, who was managing editor of The Kansas City Star when he earned his M.B.A., says "fluency in both new media and business is essential to succeed as an editor these days." An M.B.A. isn't essential, but it can help journalists cultivate "a different way of looking at the world," he says.
"Any editor who hopes to succeed better be able to understand the business elements of the enterprise and technology and new media," he says.
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