OLD Media Moves

NYT vs. WSJ on MBAs: You decide

September 18, 2007

Posted by Chris Roush

Slate.com media critic Jack Shafer says that a New York Times story that argues that the value of an MBA is not that important in the business world is refuted by a Wall Street Journal story one day later that argues that an MBA is becoming increasingly valuable.

Master of Beer AppreciationShafer wrote, “A leavening of weasel-words—many, most, few—in the Times piece creates the illusion of trend. But depending on how you count, the story names relatively few people under 40 who are experiencing the altered ‘career calculus’ promised in the headline. I count between four and six, and that’s not enough data points to illuminate an Excel spreadsheet, let alone justify a business-section feature. Early on, the story declares, ‘As more Americans have become abundantly wealthy, young people are recalculating old assumptions about success,’ but six paragraphs later it undercuts that point by acknowledging that the MBA is more popular than ever, with twice as many of the degrees earned in 2005 than in 1991. This trend is one of those now you see it, now you don’t affairs.

“The Journal story builds a better scaffold to support the weight of its headline. It canvasses the nation to report that an MBA has never been a hotter ticket. The growing demand for MBA graduates combined with plentiful career opportunities have created an environment in which ‘students can afford to turn down even six-figure offers from investment banks.’ If you set the two stories side-by-side and read them literally, the Times holds that ‘many’ bright young things with mere BAs from elite schools have skipped their MBAs to take lucrative offers from the finance industry, while the Journal is saying that the earning potential of an MBA convinces some who have the degree to turn their noses up at investment-bank bids.”

Read more here.

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