O’Donnell, Marcus, Tanner, Stephen, Green, Kerry, Cullen, Trevor, 2013, “Graduate qualities and journalism curriculum renewal: balancing tertiary expectations and industry needs in a changing environment,” International Association of Media and Communication Research Conference, University College Dublin, 25 – 27 June
ABSTRACT: Burns (2003) in an historical overview of journalism education in Australia indicates that the major approaches to journalism education “have changed little and slowly since the introduction of journalism education in Australia…[and] modern research…suggests that there have been few developments in the way journalism is taught.” Although the technological changes in journalism have initiated a series of changes since Burns wrote in 2003 in a more recent survey of global journalism education research Deuze (2007) noted that many of the debates in the literature remain constant. This panel will report on the preliminary findings of an Office of Learning and Teaching funded research project that has been set up to explore and make explicit:
- the assumptions about curriculum that are held by key journalism eductors within Australia;
- the assumptions about curriculum that are held by key members of the media industry who employ our graduates;
- the ways that the exigencies of the wider higher education sector shape these assumptions;
- the ways that the exigencies of rapidly evolving media-change help shape or alter these assumptions; and
- Identification of the key barriers and motivators for curriculum renewal in the journalism education sector and a set of model strategies and exemplars that address these issues.
Understating these issues is particularly important given: (a) the need for university programs to be able to adapt to the next wave of industrial and technological change; (b) the ongoing debate about graduate qualities and attributes; and (c) the increased focus on the development and measurement of discipline based academic standards flowing from Australian government tertiary education reform. The national project is based on interviews with 50 Australian journalism educators and 50 key editors and journalists. The project looks at the diverse media and communication landscape that currently confront journalism graduates and the need to provide an effective mix of what Anderson, Bell and Shirky (2012) have recently called the “soft” and “hard” skills. Getting this balance right is increasingly important when research suggests (Cullen & Callaghan 2010) that only a third of journalism graduates will take up traditional jobs in mainstream media with a further third pursuing broader communications and media options.