Wednesday, 07 July 2010 17:04
The increasing use of new media technologies has serious consequences for journalism. Besides the rather obvious falling newspaper circulations and consumption of radio and television, technology has seen off numerous journalism jobs. This seemingly obvious consequences of technology means newsrooms and classrooms have to continually innovate to survive.
Even though the employment of technology has positive implications for media and training, and improves the quality of journalism due to the speed of collection, production and distribution of journalistic products, particularly information/news, it introduces new problems in society. Issues of job losses, journalism education, and the relationship between industry and institutions of higher learning all come into focus when critically looking at the application of technology. Yet, journalism education continues to grow.
This is based on the fact that many universities and other institutions of higher learning have recently introduced journalism courses to cater for the demand from students and even industry.
This means that journalism is still highly valued despite the notion that people now rely less on traditional channels of information distribution. This arises because people particularly in Africa continue to rely a lot on ‘old’ media, more specifically radio, for their information. Given the digital divides, and sometimes differentials in qualities of use of ‘new’ media, newspapers, radio and television are important and the role in political and democratic process should be appreciated and celebrated.
But how can we journalism training more relevant to Africans and African students? Is ‘de-Westernisation’ or ‘Africanisation’ of curricula the answer? Some suggested that answers be sought elsewhere. China was cited as a good example.
Although this was the topic of discussion in a research paper session on Pan-African Perspectives, it was not clear whether such a move was possible given the acceleration of globalisation, and internationalisation of education. Even then, it was important that students engage more with issues related to Africa.
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 15:34
China’s rapid transformation has not been limited to industrial, financial and economic growth, and has been felt across the country’s media landscape. A panel discussion on new media and journalism education in Asia offered insights into the diverse and varied state of the media in Asia, with a strong focus on China. Moderated by Professor Guo Ke of Shanghai International Studies University, the presentations touched on the state of Chinese media, as well as journalism education issues in the country.
Dr David Clark from Bolton Foreign Studies University presented an overview of the media landscape. He explained that Chinese media is often misunderstood because people imagine that it’s homogenous. Although state-run media seem to form the overriding perceptions of Chinese journalism, there is also the metropolitan media, which is semi-independent, and the internet, he said.
Clark argued that although social networking sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China, one should not underestimate the presence of social media in the country. Most people in China know how to get around the censorship. “There are lots of ways to climb over the Chinese firewall,” said Dr Clarke. “It’s not an issue, just an inconvenience.” There are many social media sites not known outside of China, simply because they are in Chinese, he added.
Although China has a history of media censorship, people’s perceptions might not always be correct, added Zhang Xiaoying, also from the Beijing Foreign Studies University. “All perceptions have a basis,” she said, “but everything is changing so fast.”
“There is the state-run media which is obviously controlled by the state – that’s clear. But there are other organisations that are commercialised. All of them are going through transformation though. It’s an age of change,” she said.
China is advancing technologically along with the rest of the world. “There is a trend toward media convergence,” said Xia Baojun, from Jinan University. “The new generation of media relies on the internet.” Reflecting this trend, Clark’s students have no equipment in their classrooms. Instead, they are supplied with fully-equipped backpacks. Inside the backpacks students find laptops which they use to produce media and learn about the world.
Interestingly, China’s newspaper circulation is growing at the same time as convergence is taking off. “One can’t argue specifically for a cross-media approach in China. The trend is going in the opposite direction to the rest of the world,” Clark said. South African newspapers with their dwindling readership can perhaps learn a few things from China.
“We have benefited from globalisation, but there is the fear of it getting out of control. It’s a great challenge to the state run media,” said Zhang Xiaoying. “It’s a very interesting scenario at the moment, a period of transition.”
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 13:53
Head of the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Rhodes University, Guy Berger discusses the importance of hosting the second World Journalism Education Congress in Africa and how it has been received so far. "We're building a movement of teachers from around the world," he tells us in this video.
Monday, 05 July 2010 20:12
A fully subscribed syndicate group grappled with one of the most topical issues in journalism education, viz. the Social Media (SM) and how the
introduction of such platforms is likely to influence the nature of journalism training.
At the start of proceedings the point was made strongly by facilitator Julie Posetti and media specialist, Mindy McAdams, of the University of
Florida and author of the blog Teaching Online Journalism.(USA ) that it should be incumbent on all journalism educators, whether formally teaching
new/social media or not, to keep up –to- date on issues pertinent to SM’s impact. McAdams who is widely regarded as one of the pioneers of online
journalism, teaches production and theory courses about interactive media and online journalism and comes out of a background of extensive online and
multimedia journalism training for news organizations.
McAdams highlighted the range of SM which extends considerably beyond what traditionally was termed ‘news media’ and includes sites such as
Delicious.com and Flickr.com where information is loosely shared. Based on input from members representing a widely differing range of training and
society contexts from around the globe, it was apparent that the inclusion of SM in aspects of journalism training would be severely affected by the
availability, or lack of, SM. However, what came out of discussion was that while such access to SM, or the changes that were possibly going to happen
in the arena of such media in future, might differ the concepts relating to their use would not likely to change greatly.
The syndicate then spent time of interrogating some of the possible applications of SM to journalism education. Reservations were expressed in
respect of accuracy and verification issues arising out of the use of information posted on SM, and of the possiblity of abuse of such SM in the
cause of ‘pushing’ particular political or possible corporate interests. The issue of the ethics underpinning such use of SM sources by journalists and
media organisations elicited suggestions ranging from subscribing to already existing policies on SM usage (suc as Reuter’s handbook) to leaving the
issues for later attenrion and rather encouraging the increades use of such platforms.
Monday, 05 July 2010 16:45
Media educators have been challenged to be more tolerant towards different schools of thought from their students. This strong sentiment emerged from a discussion by the syndicate group on Diversity and Journalism Education held at the ongoing World Journalism Education Congress in Grahamstown, South Africa.
Diversity is a multifaceted term which is interpreted in different ways in many countries, but there is some general agreement about the major elements, which include age, disability status, ethnicity, gender, political ideology, race, region of origin, religion and sexual orientation. Other characteristics that cited as relevant specifically to the hiring of a diverse faculty include amount of professional experience, area of scholarship, income, class or parental status
Participants felt that accepting different schools of thoughts was one to ensure everyone’s views all students views are heard and appreciated in class.
“We have to accept that diversity is a source for critical thinking and as such we have to be in that position where we allow our students to reflect and say out their experiences. This is something we can do because it is about how we teach them,” said Rhodes University’s Dr Anthea Garman, an expert in the group.
Another participant, Ibrahim Saleh noted that citizens need to be oriented to embrace diversity and media educators can begin to contribute to that process by effectively capturing differences in views.
The syndicate expressed interest in the general approach proposal by the Network of French Speaking Universities presented by University of Paris’s Pascal Guenee.
The proposal has three approaches to integrating diversity in journalism education:
Participants agreed that media educators could at least contribute effectively to category one and two through changing their approach to teaching and allowing alternative views to flow in their classes.
There was a general understanding and feeling that media educators are often intolerant of views that are different from their own – and this needed to change.
“We need to go beyond tolerance and into active encounters, to achieve diversity,” added Garman.
The three-day WJEC seeks to find solutions to effective journalism curriculum in an era of radical change. It is attended by media educators from around the world.
Monday, 05 July 2010 16:20
The former president of the Republic of Ghana (2001 to 2009) speaks candidly on the state of journalism in Africa. He said journalists should learn to respect the humanity of others. Kufuor was special guest at the second World Journalism Educator's Congress held in Grahamstown, South Africa from 4-7 July 2010.
Sunday, 04 July 2010 17:41
JMC educators need to refresh Media and Communication Studies curricula to help make sense of a radically changing mediascape. This was the message to delegates from UNESCO's Centres of Journalism Excellence and Reference who attended a programme titled Capacitating COE's for Real-Time Journalism and Media Studies just ahead of the second World Journalism Educators' Congress.
Newbies learnt the basics of adding followers, how to tweet functionally and socially; as well as information on how to break news on Twitter while respecting journalistic values.
Posetti says it is important to host workshops because platforms like Twitter can help "cross cultural barriers and to interconnect around the globe in a way that not only breaks down barriers but facilitates conversation".
"Expand and compress the world through Twitter!" tweeted Kenyan Dr George Nyabuga during the presentation.
The JMC educators will cover WJEC2 conference syndicates and panels on the WJEC blog and Twitter using the #wjec2 hashtag. WJEC will also host a Tweetup at the popular Rat and Parrot pub on NewStreet at 18h30 on 5 July.
Saturday, 03 July 2010 21:40
This week Grahamstown becomes the media capital of Africa and the Journalism Education Capital of the world, with the Africa Media Matrix its hub. It's already the National Arts Festival capital, and now the energy is set to be boosted by the influx of 600 new people whose passion is journalism.
WJEC2 is being staged in conjunction with the 14th Highway Africa. Over the years, this event has grown to become the world's biggest annual gathering of African journalists.
Together, the two events -- convened by Rhodes University's School of Journalism and Media Studies -- aim to improve journalism both continent-wide and worldwide, especially regarding the imaging of Africa.
In 2009, Rhodes JMS won a tough bid battle to host the 2nd edition of this congress. The first congress was in Singapore three years ago, and we worked hard to ensure that it would come to Africa next.
I attended the first WJEC and personal experience of meeting journalism teachers from elsewhere in the world opened my eyes to the value of difference. You learn huge amounts from other people's experiences, and in the process you also learn more about yourself and your own strengths and weaknesses. The idea of a world congress that will provide the same opportunities to participants is what inspired me.
Under the theme “Journalism education in an age of radical change”, the participants at WJEC2 will be able to take part in 130 research paper presentations, 16 task teams, and six expert panel discussions. Proceedings will be live-cast at http://wjec.ru.ac.za, and up to 11 parallel research sessions will be streamed simultaneously at various times.
We will be sharing experiences with each other – and with anyone who follows us on the web. The main focus will be on how training can help prepare journalists to deal with challenges of the recession, collapsing traditional business models and the Internet.
The topics under scrutiny range from teaching “entrepreneurial journalism” and cellphone journalism, through to building media literacy and training reporters in the coverage of violence.
It's intentional that these two conferences – WJEC and Highway Africa - are being held during the World Cup. The moment is ideal for analysing what the media make of the mega-event. And besides scrutinising the local impact of the coverage, there's also the issue of how the global media are reporting the story.
Besides for networking with each other, I hope all delegates will learn something about the practice of journalism education, and something about South Africa and this continent more broadly. That of course is not an end in itself, but a means towards increased impact in journalism education that translates into better journalism.
Prof Guy Berger is the convenor of WJEC2 and the Head of School of Rhodes University’s School of Journalism and Media Studies.
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