back to article US journo school mandates iPhone, iPod touch

Beginning this fall, all students at the Missouri School of Journalism will be required to purchase an iPhone or an iPod touch. But before both Zune users in The Reg's readership get their panties in a bunch, realize that the key word in the Missouri dictate is "required." If an item is designated by a school as required, the …


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  1. Cameron Colley

    This is legal?

    Is the US education system really that corrupt?

    Wouldn't a situation like this be a perfect one to use open source?

  2. IR


    What do they need an iPhone for that you can't do with the regular internet device (apart from being able to stick it in a large pocket)? Is there some kind of over-zealous Mac user in the high-ups of the institution?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Can't beat a Linux laptop for price surely?

    Extra words not required.

  4. Andy Bright

    Par for the course

    In the US despite having many times the money of schools in other countries, parents are forced to supplement this with everything kids need. Books, writing materials, paper, etc. Similar school supplies are required in the UK and Europe, but not on the scale of those required by US schools.

    When it comes to those supplies teachers will demand brand names and they will expect nothing less. Everything from crayons to pencils, scissors to glue. Text books are the only thing a school will supply in the US, unless you're in one of those experimental places sponsored by a corporate business that send 6 yr olds home with $1500 notebooks.

    So having a college specify a brand name item as a requirement is pretty much par for the course in their education system.

    Oh and woe betide the child that turns up to school with a generic brand of crayons or whose parents can't afford the entire multi-page list of items demanded by their kids teachers.

    Ironic don't you think, that kids are made to feel like losers because their parents can't afford the extra items teachers need for kids whose parents can't afford school supplies.

    That's real capitalism for you. Teachers with less than 10 years under their belts earning 6 figure benefit packages for less than 9 months work, schools given more in terms of government assistance than most counties get in the UK, and if you don't earn enough to bring the best, brand name items in sufficient quantity to supply your own kid and maybe a couple others, you're not welcome and neither is your child.

    Money is literally everything in the US, people get divorced if one partner fails to earn what the other considers minimum necessary for the lifestyle they feel they are entitled to.

    So don't start saying "they can't do this" or "they should be ashamed". This is their way of life, and if you want to send your child to a brand name university you'd better do so with a $2000 laptop, a wardrobe of designer clothes and everything that is "required" by the course lecturers, or your kid is better off just not turning up.

    Of course he could always go to a regular university, where the kids dress like ours and their attitudes are the same, but like everything else in this country, corporate employers only want graduates that come with a brand name degree.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Hey, being able to stick it in your pocket and carry it around is a huge plus... don't knock it. So is a touch screen.

    I put up with all sorts of shit from my Nokia N800, just so I can have my little custom pyGTK apps handy all the time. When it dies, I'll have to make do with my eeePC 701. You'll notice I'm not planning to buy a closed Apple product for all the obvious reasons.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Mobile Me too?

    Heh - I can't help but feel sorry for people who have not experienced the connectivity (as in easy-peasy connectivity) courtesy of Mobile Me.

    With one Mac, Mobile Me seems a luxury.

    With one Mac account and another Apple device, Mobile Me seems essential.

    I'd guess that by the time Windows or 'nix users catch up Apple will be on to something else totally different with an additional bunch of wannabees buzzing aimlessly in the distance?

  7. Brian


    "...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." So how would buying photoshop for the mac not add to the cost ???

  8. Robert Moore
    Jobs Halo

    Join the real world.

    In journalism in the US probably 90% of people use Apple products.

    Of course my mandating Apple equipment they make sure when their students leave school they are ready to enter their chosen field.

    Really Reg, why so Anti Apple?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Corruption etc.

    "Is the US education system really that corrupt?"

    Er, yes.

    "Is there some kind of over-zealous Mac user in the high-ups of the institution?"

    Quite common.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    "Text books are the only thing a school will supply in the US"

    Must be something new. When I was in college I had to buy each and every one of the vastly overpriced (and often poorly written) required textbooks with my own money; fortunately the university bookstore had used (dog-eared and highlighted) copies for sale although still overpriced. The only free textbooks I'd seen was in high school and below.

    Pirate icon, because the U.S. having *no* free state-funded higher education (state colleges don't count; they're not free) is part of the reason the U.S. is falling behind the rest of the world as far as education, job qualifications, etc.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Missouri rednecks vs Mac-lovin' academics

    "Missouri School of Journalism"

    Hmm, that doesn't fit the popular Missouri stereotype of toothpick-chewin' pickup-drivin' beef-eatin' rednecks... hardly the type to advocate Apple products.

    Guess things are different in academia, even in Missouri.

    Wait - maybe it's *because* it's Missouri, they're requiring Apple stuff - in a futile redneck attempt to make themselves look cool to the rest of the world... or not ;)

  12. Pierre
    Jobs Horns

    Cheapo school

    can't be bothered to develop your own online course system? Use a close, proprietary one! And require your student to buy hugely overpriced pieces of junk* to access it, this way you make sure you only have the elite (read spoilt brats) and none of these toothpick-chewin' pickup-drivin' peasants. Not a Yank problem, more like a journalism problem. (OK, I'll settle for "yank journo's problem")

    *before the fanbuoys' screams: dunno about the Jesus Phone, but the whole line of iPods derivatives is a steaming pile of colourful cattle droppings. Poorly made, poor battery life, poor earplugs. You can find better for half the price anywhere. Only the "original" iPod could be OK if it wasn't that expensive.

  13. kain preacher

    @Andy Bright

    Teachers with less than 10 years under their belts earning 6 figure benefit packages for less than 9 months work,schools given more in terms of government assistance than most counties get in the UK

    really tell that to my mom. She works year round for 65k.

    Only schools that get free government money are states schools and those are funded by property taxes. Do you even know how schools are funned in the US

    ?? How finical aide works ??

  14. kain preacher

    I left out

    Your average k-12 teachers in the US make around 38k. Thats after a few years on the job

  15. Ivan Headache


    "So how would buying photoshop for the mac not add to the cost ???"

    Well as it's a Journalism course I doubt that journalists would need the power of photoshop. And, for what most news snappers need, the tools in the current version of iPhoto are more than adequate.

    On the subject of Teachers' pay, the lovely Ivana is a K-12 teacher working at the 12 end. She brings home about £32K ($48K ish) and is permanently knackered.

  16. Tommy Pock

    The world's gone mad

    The BBC Model Bs my fellow students and I used were perfectly adequate

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Okay, so somebody in in the state of "misery" clearly likes Apple. How is this different from somebody liking Lenovo? Or Dell? These "sweetheart" deals are all over the place. Sometimes they're justified by the specific features of the hardware/OS (perhaps this time; certainly in the case of Berklee's insistence on Mac); more often it's a product of a bigger deal -- "We'll give you a discount on your lab machines for the next "x" years if you recommend that your students buy our particular brand of poison..."

    To be honest, I'm not sure that there's a serious problem with it. As long as the course work CAN be accomplished by a user of the "other" platform, then there's no harm; no foul. Arguably, this type of deal _reduces_ costs for students by allowing the Uni to get its own hardware at cheaper rates, while the students get nothing more than a gentle "prod" to buy one platform or another. As long as nothing is DEMANDED, then it amounts to nothing more than aggressive advertising, no?

    Business as usual.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Are these banjo-twangers fucking insane?

    No fanboy-ism here...

    From the Reg 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.

    (Someone is getting kickbacks for turning the school into a Mac Vendor. Some power-mad academic is creaming his jeans at the thought of pwning the w1ndoez crowd. Just ignore the fact that OS X is actually shit run on overpriced under-specced locked-in crap.)

    (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.

    (Unfortunately both pieces of software are also shit aimed at hip trendsters who bore the ever living fuck out of people by sending them albums and vignettes made with said odious pieces of shit.)

    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.

    (Please please please don't think for yourself. The Mac hive-mind has spoken and we'll do anything, even tell impressionable kids they'll be unpopular, to keep our kickbacks coming.)


    "A. That's an option, but it's one we do not recommend unless you plan to make a career of computer-assisted reporting."

    That baffles me. Using one type of computer is OK because it's the kind mandated by the school but using another is frowned upon. The Mac is fine but the Windows box is a career in computer aided journalism?

    I think these assholes actually believe that Macs are really bestowed with magical powers. Powers which make them take on the opposite definition of whatever they're arguing against if it furthers their heavily anti-Windows point.

    ***For the inevitable Mac fanboy defence which is sure to follow, don't even bother. I've had various Macs to play with down the years and, to be honest, they all sucked balls. I'm sure yours' looks great sitting on your glass desk looking all 22nd Century. I'm sure you might even have managed to do something remotely useful with it like wedge open a door or to update your blog with pictures of a kitten on a skateboard. Just fuck off, really. No one cares.***

  19. Greg Adams

    @AC at 22:19

    I believe they are talking about public school, not college. Still it costs about $600 a semester for books at college and my college has a computer requirement. Thankfully, it is just a list of hardware instead of Windows or Apple.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i thought...

    .. this type of behaviour was illegal, you couldn't say "you have to buy X not Y", before people pipe up about textbooks you can get them at the library, or will they now be lending out macs as well?

    Just trying to understand how the system works cause atm it sounds a bit odd and , well , a bit broken!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    @Mobile Me

    ... you mean the thing introduced as "Microsoft Exchange for the rest of us"?

    Back to the article, aren't Journos frequently exposed to bloody awful environments, limited cash, etc in their chase for a story? Wouldn't it then make sense to require that they get equipment with a long life, high reliability and physical strength? And which can be troubleshooted on any continent by a wide range of people?

    So either a ruggedised Linux Laptop (they'll learn enough about them while using them to sort most problems) or a ruggedised Windows Laptop (people are used to them the world over and it's easier/cheaper to get parts) would be more sensible.

    You can just imagine the scene- there Joe Bloggs is, his first report from Basra, and he's in tears because his MacBook Air has got its lovely shiny cover scratched...

  22. Alan

    @kain preacher

    Perhaps if your mom was a good teacher she'd get the 6-figure salary.

    Or was she too busy to teach you how to spell?

  23. tiggertaebo

    I know I should be annoyed. . .

    . . . but I'm laughing too hard!

    I was half expecting them to "suggest" that once they return from a lecture they should enjoy 'The Impossible Made Possible' with Coke Zero(TM)

  24. Anonymous Coward

    @Mobile Me too?

    Ah the ignorance of the fanboi.

    Windows & Linux users need to 'catch up' with .Mac/iTools/MobileMe <snigger> and pay for it.

    (note no </snigger>, I might get round to it in an hour or two)

  25. lee harvey osmond

    "both Zune users in The Reg's readership"

    Are you sure there are two?

    Are you sure there's not just one but who has been counted twice?

  26. James Dore

    The point being missed....

    Is that the University has made a big investment in iTunesU. The course materials will be delivered via podcast. Now, there are many ways to do this, but having seen the alternatives, Apple's Podcast Producer back end makes it far more straightforward for /end users/ to produce audio and video material. The payoff is that you deploy content via iTunesU. The payoff there is that you can only access the content on iPod/iPhone.

    Yes, it gets the lin/wintards all het up, but it's the easiest and most consistent way to produce and distribute content. Which is, I suspect, part of what being a J School is all about.

    Scream all you like about the fanbois at the top of the uni admin - but someone has looked long and hard at /useability/ - not just for sysadmins, but users as well, which includes the Academic staff, as well as the students. And in useability terms, Apple comes out top. Now, are you really really surprised by that?

  27. kain preacher


    Hmm nice cheap shot. 68k Is the max you can make. Any more and you have to been in demonstration. But hey you know what teachers make in California right ?

  28. Paul

    reminds me of...

    ...the scene in Idiocracy where the 'lawyer' talks about having studied at Walmart University.

    academics have been used to having some buying power for years, with book-publishing reps seeking course adoptions for textbooks from them. a logical leap to extend the principle to IT. this lot are just being rather stupidly obvious (and incorrect) about it.

  29. David Webb


    Photo-editing software - Paint? Or Gimp which is opensource and free.

    MS Office - Open Office (free)

    Illustrator - Inkscape (free)

    Adobe Premier - Avieimux (free)


    Best of all, with these programmes you can *choose* your hardware AND your OS to go with it (its all open source).

    Forcing people to go down one route prohibits learning, what if when they leave school in 7 years time, Linux has come to the forefront in multimedia? What if Win7 is so good (and yes, it really is *that* good) that it becomes the defacto OS for journo's? When these idiots leave school they will be used to working on a minor OS from a minor computer company!

    My college used Dell's, but they didn't prevent you sticking in a USB with Linux on it and running that instead, as long as the software you used was compatible with the course, you can use whatever the hell you like.

    Anyhow, a list of software which can replace closed source (from where I listed the first few examples) is:

    A fantastic bookmark to have (especially if you're cheap like me)

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The University of Missouri journalism program was once said to be excellent. Don't know how well it's thought of now. Student journalism, from what I see from the offspring, tends to be Mac-heavy. (In my day, he with the electric typewriter was living large, and a portable electric typewriter was luxury.)

    "Money is literally everything in the US, people get divorced if one partner fails to earn what the other considers minimum necessary for the lifestyle they feel they are entitled to."

    This doesn't happen elsewhere? The US is "Desperate Housewives" and England is a Mike Leigh film?

    I'd say that Mr. Bright has come close to the point without quite getting it. The US is big on captital-intensive and dubious about labor-intensive. Everybody gets warm and fuzzy feelings about a new computer lab at the local high school, but ensuring the quality of instruction is a drag.

  31. Christopher E. Stith

    $300? Who cares? You'll spend more on books the first semester.

    They require this, amortized over 4 or 5 years of study. The student owns it, and can use it for other things. The Federal Student Aid program can help buy it. A typical selection of textbooks for a freshman at a state university will run three to six hundred dollars per semester. The students will likely spend more on parking tickets on campus over a four to five year degree program than the price of an iPod Touch.

    Big surprise for you: when I was in the university band where I went, I was required to either rent an instrument from the school or provide my own. I played the tuba, so that's a $4k investment for a single class (I wasn't a music major) if I chose to buy a new one. I rented, but I might pick up a used one some day because it's a fun and interesting instrument to play.

    Nursing students provide scrubs for their clinical time. Musicians provide instruments. It was possible years ago to be a CS or MIS student and not own your own computer, but now all students at many school must have one. Often a laptop is required over a desktop. I really don't think that an iPod Touch or iPhone is that onerous a requirement for a journalism student when journalists in the field don't use pay phones and pads of paper these days. Equip yourself with the tools of the trade, or pick another trade.

  32. Andy Bright

    @kain preacher

    I said benefit packages. How much is her pension, health care and in most states, mortgage discount worth? Easily another 35K.

    And yes I know how schools are funded in the US, my kids go to them. They get their money from local, state and federal sources. And when it comes to state universities, they get theirs too.

    I have little sympathy for teachers in the US when it comes to money, as they easily earn double the salary of those in Europe, especially those that aren't working in inner cities.

    For every good teacher there's another riding his or her shirt tales earning the same amount of money for doing no more than turning up. Kids are failing in US schools in record numbers despite schools getting record finances from government sources and there is zero accountability for this amongst the people whose job it is to actually teach.

    Blame is certainly shared, but when a kid fails in a US school they're sent home for the year. There's no attempt to find out what's going wrong, no attempt to help that kid, they're kicked out for fear of their test scores affecting the school's record. Fail 3 subjects in one school year and your kid is expelled. No teachers are called up for this, no principles are asked questions, it's the parents fault and they have to live with their kid becoming another statistic. I have two living next door to me that spend more time every year at home than they do in school. Nice kids, they help my wife around the house and in the yard because they're bored. They also only have one parent who has to work two jobs to pay the bills. Not exactly her fault she can't double up as their teacher too, and do their teacher's job every night.

    Teachers in the US work around 8 months a year, so if you think earning 65K + pension and private health care for 8 months work is poor, take a walk in the real world of single parents having to work two jobs for less than 1/2 that. With no pension and no health care package.

    As for universities, they fall into two categories. Some are completely private, some are state funded. State universities are just as good as private universities but their degrees carry less weight. Nothing sensational here, this sort of tier system is in place the world over. Of course universities don't supply text books, I was talking about the school system in general, who treat kids as if they were going to university and expect their teachers to do no more than your average lecturer. Working long hours for executive pay? What a hardship for someone who has 3 months off every summer and can ask the school district to divide their salary into 12 monthly payments instead of the 9 they actually work, with another month off for other school holidays.

  33. kain preacher

    @David Webb

    You teach them what industry uses . Call me up when you see a major news paper switches to Linux.

  34. James O'Brien
    Jobs Horns

    @Are these banjo-twangers fucking insane?

    Ok I had something basically the exact same as you thanks for saving me the effort oif typing and thinking about it all :)

    As for adding to the price if you purchase Photo, Video and so on editing software what about the OSS options?

  35. Anonymous Coward

    @Christopher E. Stith

    " I really don't think that an iPod Touch or iPhone is that onerous a requirement for a journalism student when journalists in the field don't use pay phones and pads of paper these days. Equip yourself with the tools of the trade, or pick another trade."

    So that would be MiniDisc recorder and a phone with a decent battery life for all those calls back to base?

    also my old uni (left 7 years ago) was starting to upload course materials and recordings of lectures (this is before podcasts!) to their own server on their own intranet and you could download at your leisure to ANY MP3 capable device.

    now that's forward thinking.

  36. Cortland Richmond

    Their school; their rule

    If MSJ were a State supported school, I would say government has no legitimate reason to dictate from what company a student's equipment must come. But this is not the case. MSJ is a privately owned university and, barring discrimination unlawful in the US, can set what conditions they see fit.

  37. cordwainer

    Macs and Windows

    I don't necessarily agree with an educational institution requiring an IPhone over any other handheld communication device in the first place, though I understand this makes it possible for the students to use financial aid to purchase it as a legitimate educational expense. I don't know that I agree all the Mac applications are superior to other alternatives.

    I do, however, see the value of simplicity in having everyone on the same platform, just as students all use the same textbooks, resources, tests, etc. And I agree with the the technological and time-saving argument of not having to worry about compatibility issues, or the danger of infection from hundreds of thousands of viruses and malware applications. Even Mac users should use antivirus software - and fasten their seat belts, and wear condoms - like everyone else. Basic safety rules apply to all OS's. But last I looked there were still only two somewhat serious viruses in the wild, and only a few proof-of-concept. More will certainly appear; fortunately, it's highly unlikely the number will ever be extremely large.

    I won't comment further on the university's decision, since others have already made excellent points, except to note that fortunately requiring Macs doesn't leave students Windowless.

    The current Mac laptops use Intel processors, so you can install Windows on them, either alone, or on a separate partition. Use Apple's free Boot Camp application to partition the hard drive, creating and formatting one or more additional partitions. (Boot Camp allows you to do this without touching your existing Mac OS installation or having to reformat the entire hard drive.) Then install Windows - or Linux for that matter - on the new partition(s). Afterwards, each time you turn on your computer you'll be prompted to choose an OS.

    You can also install a free emulator such as Virtual Box and run Windows inside the Mac OS, allowing you to use your favorite Windows apps at the same time you're running your Mac apps for class. (Advanced users may also be familiar with WINE, including implementations such as Crossover, created to allow Windows applications to run "natively" in Linux, which also allows other *nix's, including the Mac OS , to run some Win apps without an emulator.)

    As a computer consultant, I have a Mac laptop partly because I can run 5 different OS's on it, both in emulation and real mode. I don't want to have to buy 5 different laptops when I can use one for all my work, and carry just one on my jobs. I want Mac and Linux and Unix and Windows XP and Windows VIsta at my fingertips all the time. And while it's usually possible to install the Mac OS on, say, a Dell, it's a PITA, not to mention a violation of Apple's EULA.

    Macs also hold their value fairly well in comparison to other brands, so if you really hate it and want to sell it when you graduate....well, it would go a long way toward a really nice party :-)



  38. kain preacher

    @Andy Bright

    Fail 3 subjects in one school year and your kid is expelled. What state is that in ? Its not in California. In fact I've never heard of that. Can you show me proof. Expel kid and you lose money. Now they will expel you you just stop showing up.

    Did read what I posted ? I said 65k I said year round. That's not 8 months She does 230 days in her scool year . Secondly I said 65k for California. You can not us that for the rest of the US. Do you realize that in most of states k-12 teachers max at at 49K

    I said benefit packages. How much is her pension, health care and in most states, mortgage discount worth? Easily another 35K.

    $600 a month for her and my dad. Mortgage discount ?? that's not some thing you get out here for college teachers. You can get low interest loans as k-12 teacher, but you are teaching in the poorest area for dismal pay. below 39k. In California that's nothing.

    I will still like for you to show me how the average US teachers k-12 make 6 figures.

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