State of Journalism Education; (Part 2)

Article excerpt

Byline: Florangel Rosario Braid

A PRIORITY issue raised during the UNESCO Consultative Meeting in Paris was that of redefining the mission and functions of journalism and to realign the curricula with this new philosophy. The two areas of reform which would respond to globalization and the "revolutionary" impact of technology are the inclusion of a core course on the fundamentals of digital journalism or online journalism; and the active utilization of the digital technologies to improve the learning process.

Citing as example the Knight Center Experience, a distance learning program for mid-career journalists from Latin America and the Caribbean, the four-to-six week courses included computer-assisted reporting, mathematics for journalists, newsroom management, coverage of armed conflicts, and reporting public administration. The experiment proved cost-effective compared with traditional training programs which involved higher costs for travel, lodging and equipment. The evaluation results were positive and among others, showed that technology can enhance and extend the learning experience; that open source (public domain) software programs can be as effective as proprietary programs which are covered by copyright, and that online learning can be combined with the traditional approaches. Online courses are interactive, participatory and provide more flexibility in terms of content and time. The latter is a positive factor for working journalists who do not have time to attend classroom courses. The modular approach in online learning likewise facilitates development of journalism educators in the three areas of teaching, practice, and research.

Core competencies include the ability to critique structural issues affecting mass media -- media concentration, diversity, dependence on advertising, etc. The course on democracy would highlight rights and "entitlements," social responsibility, and justice. Research is an important component considering the need to increase the credibility of news and public affairs programs.

It was further suggested that the methodology in both education and training should start by identifying the various partners or stakeholders -- graduates, markets, and journalism schools. …