An Examination of Curricula in Middle Eastern Journalism Schools in Light of Suggested Model Curricula

By Tahat, Khalaf; Self, Charles C. et al. | Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict, January 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

An Examination of Curricula in Middle Eastern Journalism Schools in Light of Suggested Model Curricula


Tahat, Khalaf, Self, Charles C., Tahat, Zuhair Yassin, Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict


INTRODUCTION

Journalism education opportunities at universities around the globe have expanded rapidly in the recent years, particularly in regions where opportunities have been limited in the past (UNESCO, 2013). This expansion has followed a similar expansion and shift in journalism professional practices (Fenton, 2009; Grueskin, Seave & Graves, 2011; McNair, 2008; Shirky, 2008). Scholars have called for more extensive examination of the nature of these programs in order to better understand the types of approaches being used in different countries (Deuze, 2006). This call has become more urgent as changes in curricula have been made at universities in response to changing technologies and media business practices (Bugeja, 2005; Goodman, 2007; Ocwich & Burger, 2008; Shirky, 2008)and rapidly rising enrollments for journalism programs in many countries (Deuze, 2006; Hanna & Sanders, 2007; Hume, 2007; Monteira & Rodrigues, 2009), even as resources have often remained constrained (Gross & Kenney, 2008; Huang, 2011; Tomaselli & Nothling, 2008).

Some scholars have tried to identify best practices and examine similarities and differences in programs by geographic region (Dueze, 2006; Goodman, 2007). Others have examined how programs are changing their curricula (Bloom & Mavhungu, 2009; Tracey, Mavhungu, Du Toit & Mdlongwa, 2009). Some have suggested that our studies are too limited to understand journalistic approaches worldwide (Burger, 2007; Deuze, 2005). Hanitzsch (2005) has called for more cross-cultural mass communication research and international comparisons.

New initiatives to conduct such study have begun. One of the most important is the work of the World Journalism Education Council (Foote, 2008; Goodman, 2007; Potter, 2010), a group representing associations of university journalism educators that have been set up in different countries and regions of the world. While work to establish the WJEC began as early as 2001, the first official meeting of the council happened in Singapore in 2007 with 28 representatives from world regional journalism education associations. Three major goals were articulated at that meeting: 1) examination of key issues facing journalism educators everywhere, 2) a declaration of journalism education principles and 3) a census of university based journalism education programs around the world.

This third goal has resulted in a 5-year project guided by the Institute for Research and Training at the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma with funding from the Knight Foundation and the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation. The project was carried out in three phases:

The first phase sought to list every university based journalism program in the world, compiled and published basic contact information for each program. The results have been described in articles in several venues (Self, 2007; Self & Schroeder, 2011; Self & Tahat, 2013; Center for International Media Assistance, 2007; Huang, 2011; Foote, 2007; Foote, 2008; Yang, 2012) and are publically available on the Web at http://wjec.ou.edu/census.php.

The second phase sought to understand how journalism is taught in different regions of the world using the list of programs produced by the census. A basic questionnaire was developed to solicit such information. The census list was divided into sections and focused on specific issues or regions in order to build comparative data. A series of reports followed. One was a description of the project as part of a Center for International Media Assistance paper (2007). Another focused on the issue of transparency and bribery, with results published in the AEJMC's journal Mass Communication and Society (Yang, 2012). Another focused on journalism education in China. That study produced a Master of Arts thesis describing the rapid changes in journalism education in China (Huang, 2011). …

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