Journalism education – the pint pot problem

February 1, 2009

I’m finally getting around to editing some of the video I shot on my recent trip to the USA. Today I’m uploading a short clip from the conference I attended at the Missouri School of Journalism Futures Forum.

The session I spoke in was focused on the curriculum and convergence – I guess it was about practical journalism education.

I wrote about this at the time, now here’s a brief excerpt from the session on convergence and the curriculum.

I’m talking here about what I am calling the “no teach” curriculum for senior students and the perpetual “pint pot problem”.  The curriculum has to fit into a specified number of timetabled teaching hours and if you want to introduce something new, what do you leave out?

I use the example of shorthand again, but in this context it’s more about where it might fit in an extended journalism curriculum, not about whether it stays or goes altogether. This should appease some folk who think I’m out to kill it off completely.

All  can say to that is: “Not yet.”

Journalism of the Future – a Missouri perspective

September 13, 2008

I’ve been in Columbia, Missouri (pron: Mizzoorah) for the past few days, enjoying the hospitality of the Missouri School of Journalism and helping them (in my own small way) to celebrate a Centenary of operations.

It’s also the launch of their state-of-the-art convergent newsroom and associated research and teaching facilities at the Reynolds Institute.

As well as honouring MSJ’s proud history, the celebration has a serious side, a forum on the future(s) of journalism. The focus of discussion has been on journalism, journalists, convergence and, of course, curriculum issues.

Link to Forum site

I’ve been able to get an overview of journalism education in a number of places and alongside my visit to the Annenberg School of Journalism at USC Los Angeles, I’m starting to get a picture of where the journalism curriculum is going and what the stumbling blocks are.

One interesting note: at Annenberg they’re still offering undergraduate degrees in print and broadcast journalism. Their MA program (I know Allison, but I am in America, OK!) offers tracks in print, broadcast and online.

I was also relieved to find out that the struggles and issues we face at AUT are really no different from those being tackled around the world. It’s not the case that we are a million years behind; in fact we’re on par with some of the bigger schools and not that far behind the leaders.

That’s the good news. The bad news is…

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The J-school debate: the theory of practical teaching

September 6, 2008

I don’t think we’ll ever get over this one, but that’s not stopping anyone from getting into it.

Some updates from various places:

Dave Lee’s jblog The best route to success

Tuck’r’s last word – I doubt it somehow

There’s one thing though that I need to get straight.

I do not advocate a “media studies” approach to journalism education and so when Jim suggests that the alternatives are “media studies” versus a “practical” approach, that’s not how I see the debate.

My position is that journalism is a discipline in its own right, it is not a branch of media studies, or cultural studies, or communication studies. These are sister disciplines, but in fact journalism is the oldest. Journalism has been taught for 100 years at the Missouri School of Journalism (which is part of Missouri University). In fact I’m on my way there for the celebrations, next week.

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Journalism – do we need training, education, or scholarship

August 29, 2008

As usual there’s an interesting thread developing on Mindy McAdams blog, Teaching Online Journalism.

This one’s about where journalists should be trained, for how long and what the content of their training should be. An oldie, but a goodie.

Mindy’s post also references this one from Pat Thornton’s the Journalism Iconoclast.

Pat’s usually pretty provocative, as you’d expect an iconoclast to be:

…let’s step back from the criticisms of journalism education and ask, what should journalism education be like? Forget the tenured has-beens and the slow moving deans, what would an ideal journalism program look like in 2008?

Would it even be four years? Would it be a certificate program? Would it be a major that required another major?

Would it be a minor? Would it be heavily cross discipline, relying on other majors and departments for core courses?

This is a constant theme in journalism education and has been for the past 20 years or so. In Australia our fight was initially with cultural studies and media studies academics who didn’t see journalism having a place in their academy. But I think we do deserve a seat at the scholarly table.

In fact I argue for journalism scholarship, not training and not just education.

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New media and the public sphere

July 31, 2008

OK, so this isn’t exactly a self-made blogcast. My colleague Gregory Treadwell asked the questions and did the edits, but we think it’s not bad.

It’s the next in a series of short vids we’re making (mainly Greg) for AUT’s New Media Journalism class.

In this clip Greg asked me about digital optimism and digital pessimism and the impact of online journalism and blogging on the public sphere – what he likes to call the “national conversation”.

Our first series of interviews, with NZ Herald Online editor Jeremy Rees, and Scoop managing editor, Selwyn Manning, covers the differences between a more mainstream news outfit and a web-only start-up.

Keeping up with the digital Joneses

July 23, 2008

Sometimes it’s hard to get anything done. You think you’ve turned a corner and, like the Tour de France, the next incline is steeper and the pelleton has disappeared up the fuck&n mountain.

It’s like that in my neck of the digital woods too. For every step we take, there’s the awkward rhythm of an accompanying backward shuffle. Now it seems we’re all too far behind the convergence fusbal to even attempt a behind (AFL speak for non-Australians).

I’ve just (how remiss of me) come across yet another online journalism site that offers groovy apps and swingeing critiques of journalism education.

What’s a professor2du?

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20,000 unique hits can’t be too far off the mark

July 18, 2008

Thanks to my subscribers, regular readers and drop-ins. For what it’s worth Ethical Martini has now had over 20,000 unique visitors. That’s Ok in just over a year, for a blog that came from left field.

And I’d just like to say: “You’re all unique.”

I hope I keep you informed and entertained. Drop me a line, or join the fun. Applications now open for keen, ethical, martini-friendly and outspoken accomplices.



More on shorthand from the UK Press Gazette

May 29, 2008

The UK Press Gazette has a very interesting online feature – a student journalism blog. A recent post by Dave Lee suggests that all young journos should not only be on Facebook and other social networking sites; they should also be using them as generators of story ideas and as a good place to find sources. This is not such a new idea any more. There’s a recent and growing movement in the US for something the proponents are calling “beatblogging”. There’s even a blog site devoted to it. The mission of this collaborative project is to figure out how journalists can better use social networking sites to improve their reporting and writing.

A big ask perhaps, but it does, in a round-about way, lead me back to shorthand. I’ve been canvassing opinion on three continents about this and, to be frank, it’s a bit of a circular argument.

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In defence of theory – a reply to Mr duFresne’s review of Intro

May 25, 2008

It seems that Dominion Post columnist Karl duFresne and I are destined to cross keyboards for some time to come. We first clashed in August-September 2007 in a debate about the state of journalism in New Zealand and the old chestnut of objectivity in journalism.

Now I find I have to challenge him once again. This time over a fairly damning review of the journalism textbook Intro.

I have no real interest in defending every word and full-stop in the book, but a couple of inaccuracies and the general tone of the review do need some comment. my particular beef with Karl is the disdainful voice he adopts when talking about “theory”. Read the rest of this entry »

The shorthand debate goes global – almost

May 22, 2008

Martin Stabe’s popular blog at the Press Gazette in the UK is carrying some interesting comments on the shorthand debate. Martin also links to another blog where the debate is also live.

Martin Stabe on shorthand

Charlie Beckett on shorthand

Charlie’s post ends with a nice line:

Those of us who have shorthand like to think that it is vital, but is it any more important than an ability to type fast enough for Twitter?