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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Journalism courses may need to diversify

-The Australian
Journalism student Matilda Marozzi says she may try to get work online or on radio.
Picture: Stuart McEvoy 
Source: The Australian
TWO universities are considering reviews of their journalism programs amid the impact of the restructuring at Fairfax Media. Anne Dunn, president of the Journalism Education Association, said the restructures, with associated redundancies for hundreds of experienced journalists, had led some schools to look at reviewing whether their programs met the needs of students. "I'm aware of two universities who are looking at reviewing their programs in the wake of last week's events," Professor Dunn said. She declined to name the universities.
"The first impact on universities has been for them to look carefully at whether they will be justified in teaching journalism." Academic and media commentator Margaret Simons, director of the Centre of Advanced Journalism at the University of Melbourne, said all universities teaching journalism needed to ensure students had skills in text, audio, video and social media. "They've left it a bit late if they are only doing it now," said Dr Simons in reference to the journalism schools considering reviews. "Good journalism courses have already been preparing their students for a world in which they have to be multi-skilled, entrepreneurial and open and adaptable enough to adjust to the changing nature of news."

Matilda Marozzi, a first-year journalism student at RMIT in Melbourne, is one of those learning multi-platform skills. The 19-year-old, who was doing work experience with the ABC when the Fairfax and News Limited restructures were announced, said she was not sure if she would get the chance to work in traditional newspapers."My dream job getting into the industry was to get a job with a newspaper," Ms Marozzi said. "Now, I think I'll try to get something in online or radio. At RMIT we're getting a bit of everything: print, online, TV and radio. The reason I chose to go there is that they give you a lot of practical skills and that's what you need now if you are going to get a job in the workforce."

Dr Simons said graduates who wanted to work in newsrooms needed to look beyond traditional media because research showed that niche outlets employed more people than big organisations. "The jobs are in small to medium enterprises, some of them employing only a few journalists," Dr Simons said. "That sector is going to continue to grow. I don't want to be pollyannaish about this. It is obviously a very difficult time when the industry goes through a fundamental restructure but it's not as if we didn't know something like this is coming." Professor Dunn said: "In many ways (journalism education) is more important than ever. Because of the downsizing of staff, particularly in print newsrooms, there will be fewer people available to train and mentor young journalists."


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