Mass Communication Education/Journalism Education in Europe and North America/Global Trends in Media Education

Article excerpt

* Murray, Michael D. and Roy L. Moore, eds. (2003). Mass Communication Education. Ames, IA: Iowa State Press. pp. 445.

* Frohlich, Romy and Christina Holtz-Bacha, eds. (2003). Journalism Education In Europe and North America. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press. pp. 349.

* Lavender, Tony, Birgitte Tufte, and Dafna Lemish, eds. (2003). Global Trends in Media Education. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press. pp. 200.

With seventy-five contributors, these books may not provide the last word on media education, but they provide a lot of them. Somewhere in all three books, someone admits that education for and about the media is "in a state of flux" or words to that effect. Well, that's been a starting point as well as an ending point in media studies during the last half-century or so. And there have been a lot of studies. Five years ago in Mass Media Education in Transition, Tom Dickson counted about one a year since World War II.

So is there any point in looking at these three new studies? Well, there is. Each of these books in its own way is going to be useful to some people in our field. This reviewer will try to point out some of the useful stuff.

As we occasionally admit, no one in academe pays much attention to teaching until the semester is upon us. This is especially a problem for the newly minted Ph.D. who ground out that research to get through graduate school. Murray and Moore's book is a substitute for that seminar you never took on "How to Teach a Course." The book will tell you how to set up a course, what texts to use, and what resources are available. The contributors run through a list of courses likely to be assigned including introductory ones in mass communication, advertising, broadcasting, journalism, public relations, and even film. They assume you had little or no training in how to teach even, or perhaps especially, if you were a teaching assistant. They urge you to latch on to a mentor in graduate school and lean heavily on him or her in the early semesters. It apparently worked for these authors. Most of them include a loving "Remembering a Mentor" essay in their chapters. Even the deceased mentors, who probably cannot help or hinder these authors' career progress any more, get nothing but praise so they must really mean it.

Murray and Moore can also be a life preserver for the seasoned faculty member. These veterans of academe have been wisely narrowing down their teaching area to comfortable courses that help in the research quest. But occasionally a colleague gets a better job and your department chair calls on you to teach a new course. In a section titled "Advanced Curriculum," the book provides background and advice on teaching media ethics, law, international media, media management, and media history. We aren't told why these courses wound up in the "Advanced" category, but with a chapter from here and a week or two to get ready even a senior faculty member can earn a creditable teaching score in a surprise class.

Journalism Education in Europe and North America tries to compare this venture in a dozen countries. Useful in an international communication course, but the problem is that each country is a separate case study and comparison has to be by the reader. The contributions are also quite uneven. Weaver's chapter on the United States is carefully structured and balanced. Frank Esser explains Great Britain's move toward a U.S. model of journalism education and how this affects salaries and the old union-controlled apprenticeship model. His views are summed up in a chapter subtitle: "Between Dream and Nightmare."

The idea of university courses for journalists has certainly caught on in Britain. Esser counted 331 degree programs there that claim to offer mass communication courses. …