The world of journalism is undergoing a crisis – or a revolution – which presents an enormous challenge to those working in it and those hoping to join it. Will there be jobs in journalism as we know them? If not, what is the point of studying journalism?
Here at Glamorgan we are upfront about this question and answer it along the following lines. What students learn from studying journalism are not only skills that might be used in a career in the media.
They learn to think clearly and to make sense of the world around them; they learn to communicate clearly and directly; they learn to work co-operatively; they learn to be organised and to meet deadlines; they learn to present themselves and their ideas to other people.
All these are ‘transferable’ skills which will be useful in many careers as well as journalism. But can we argue that, beyond the world of work, they represent an education for life?
An interesting perspective on this comes from the study of learning and teaching in universities. One of the leading books on the subject has this to say about what a full education (what it calls a ‘weave of learning’) is about:
‘This weave of learning encompasses a range of intellectual, personal, social, cultural, ethical, political, practical obligations, interests and concerns which students will need to both address and balance in their lives. These go far beyond the learning demands of specific discipline knowledge or of general transferrable skills.
‘Teaching needs to address and engage the wider multiple discourses of the ‘life-world’. These may include, for example, an ability to respond meaningfully and critique one’s own responses to political debates, health issues, cultural matters, social and family relationships, works of art, diverse social groupings and ways of thinking, voluntary and charitable services, the media, leisure activities and even religious experience. It requires an ability to critique these from multiple frames and perspectives in open, democratic and socially just ways.’ (P. 47 Learning & Teaching in Higher Education by Light, Cox & Calkins; 2nd ed. London 2009)
You’d be hard pressed to find a university course which engages with more of the above than a journalism degree! Journalists are involved in all these ‘stories’ and so are many of our journalism students. The challenge for us is to help them see just how exciting and relevant their chosen subject is.