The State of Journalism Education; (Part 1)
Byline: Florangel Rosario Braid
SIXTEEN experts -- practising journalists, academics, and social scientists from various regions of the world participated at a forum convened by UNESCO in Paris last December 2005, to examine the state of journalism education today.
Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication Vice President Ramon Tuazon who prepared the Report as part of his fourmonth consultancy with the Communication Sector in Paris, summarized the issues raised during the three-day consultative meeting. The rationale of the Meeting according to Dr. A.W. Khan, Assistant Director-General, is to explore the role of journalism education in meeting UNESCO's commitment to the promotion of free flow of information and ideas and media development. He cited research findings indicating that most journalism programs are not able to highlight the connection between the philosophies and practices of democracy and journalism. Too, there is perception that journalism curricula does not meet the requirements of the media industry which employs majority of the graduates of journalism schools. W. Jayaweera, Director of UNESCO's Division for Communication Development emphasized the value of the model journalism curriculum for diploma and undergraduate programs which was one of the outputs of the Meeting. Among the issues raised was that of relevance.
As The Hindu EditorinChief N. Ram observed, trends such as the "declining credibility, rise of new technology, market pressures and rapid political changes require a fresh and critical study of the purpose, functions, and methods of journalism." While he justified the importance of journalism education in building professional and intellectual capabilities, he however pointed out that in India's experience, undergraduate schools do not work. It is at the graduate level where the competencies of students are enhanced through intensive grounding in the social and physical sciences and the humanities. Curriculum content should be able to balance basic skills with critical thinking, new knowledge, and social values like commitment to freedom. To sum up, Ram suggests combining academic rigor with intensive practical work, thus striking a balance between education and training.
Then there is the challenge of building the knowledge and skills of journalists coming from developing countries and emerging democracies. Another expert reiterated the important advocacy role of journalists in facilitating political, economic, and social development. Journalists are asked to search for stories that expose injustice, corruption, and practices that inhibit the development of democracy. Even in mature democracies, he added, we have to continually hold into account those in power, something that is farthest from the minds of many journalists and media owners. …