Online technology poses a challenge to traditional forms of journalism, questioning the profession itself. Citizen journalism is on the rise with the average joe transforming into a commentator, reporter or photographer of current affairs.
Jeanne du Toit, radio lecturer at Rhodes University, is currently writing her PhD on journalism education and notes how global patterns of journalism education are changing. “Journalism has changed into the new liberal arts degree for the 21st century,” she says adding, “We are training them for what the profession could evolve into.”
Du Toit explains how radio students at Rhodes University draw material from both international radio, such as the BBC, as well as national platforms, such as the SABC. Rhodes University’s emphasis on practical education in journalism is based on what du Toit calls “organic relationships” with national media institutions. Not only do students immerse themselves in material from local media institutions, they also progress, by improving the news environment. The workplace is not always the focus; “Students experience the practical side of journalism but we do not necessarily simulate real-world circumstances. We make them better,” explains du Toit.
The World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC) provides a platform for educators to share ideas about the evolution of journalism education as well as, how to save the profession in the global sphere. Kanina Holmes, assistant Professor of Journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, feels the WJEC can provide educators with new ways of educating students for the workplace. “We, as educators, struggle with changes in the media but the programme keeps us up to date with journalism’s challenges,” says Holmes, adding that she is “excited to hear ideas from all over the world”. The WJEC provides opportunities to network and exchange ideas so that the ever-changing industry is ready for the future global journalist.