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The EJC on 4 June, 2012, celebrated its 20th anniversary in Maastricht, the Netherlands, with a programme focused on the topic dearest to its heart: journalism education.
The EJC celebrated its 20th anniversary in Maastricht, the Netherlands, with a programme focused on the topic dearest to its heart: journalism education, photo: Sueli Brodin
Howard Finberg, the director of partnerships and alliances at The Poynter Institute in Florida, US, was invited to give a keynote speech on the future of journalism education and on the role it will play in determining the future of the journalistic profession at large.
EJC Board Chairman Ove Joanson used a Chinese proverb to open the conference: “In this room we are all cursed”. He explained this emblematic statement by saying that those who live in interesting times are cursed and emphasised the fact that the times we live in are characterised by social, economic and technology-driven changes that are taking place at the speed of light, making the current historical moment an “extremely interesting” one.
“Are journalists and educators as advanced as their students?” asked EJC Board Chairman Ove Joanson, photo: Sueli Brodin
Analysing the latest Poynter research on the topic of journalism education, Finberg said that in general half of the respondents said journalism education is not keeping up with the changes and innovations that are taking place in the industry.
“Of course we need to ask ourselves what do our customers, students and people who attend our seminars want, but even more importantly we need to ask ourselves what do our non-customers want?” he explained, adding that shifting the focus on potential new students and seminar attendees would be the only way to really understand what innovative teaching methods can bring to journalism education.
To innovate means to create new ways to use software, teach new collaborative methods, connect to other university departments, apply team teaching and interdisciplinary training with scientists, expand journalism and communication schools as community content providers and create networks linking communities and education providers.
“Poynter could reach by its onsite seminar programmes those who represent roughly the 1 percent of the potential sector who would like to access better training. This is why it is crucial to focus on the rest, on that 99 percent group who, due to time constraints, or funding issues, is not able to attend training sessions in person,” argued Finberg.
Howard Finberg from Poynter Institute delivered the keynote speech at the EJC’s 20th anniversary conference in Maastricht, photo: Sueli Brodin
“What Poynter tried to do was to create an innovative solution to this. We did not want to offer a distance learning programme replicating the seminars we presented on location so we looked to what the non-customers wanted and needed and at ways to refresh what Poynter taught and how to innovate the way they taught. This is what all journalism educators need to do. There is a great opportunity and challenge to re-imagine audiences, their needs and how to measure success. Of course technology can be a huge help in this respect and offers new teaching methods capable of reaching audiences dispersed across the world.”
The Poynter Institute’s experience is encouraging educators worldwide to follow a disruptive approach to traditional media education and to dare re-imagining journalism training from the scratch, something that according to Finberg should have been done 20 years ago already.
“Some journalism educators will change and some will be left behind, just as some newspapers will evolve and others will go out of business. It is time to think of the opportunity to serve the non customers and help them do their job better. It is time to innovate. We need to seize the future.”
Howard Finberg, The Poynter Institute, The Future of Journalism Education at the EJC’s 20th Anniversary Conference in Maastricht, 4 June 2012
The Future of Journalism Education. A Personal Perspective, by Howard Finberg (full text)
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