Make innovation work with theory

Published on by Astrid Ildor (author)

The last parallel panel on the Shaping the Future of News Media conference was a discussion on how to overcome the challenges in journalism education working with  theoretical model. This was especially debated in the aspect of working with innovative cooperation with the media sector.

“There is a need for more theory on journalism education.” This was stated by Michael Harnischmacher from the University of Trier, Germany. From his study on ‘How to frame and research education in an ever-changing market’ he claims that most of what we know about the profession of journalism educators are best-practice examples, and most of what are being done in the teaching programs are trial-and-error based. However this may not be enough anymore. Instead what is needed is a deeper understanding of journalism education - a theoretical groundwork for an applied research that could benefit the future of journalism education.  

One such theory could be the model of Design Thinking also presented at the parallel panel by Txema Egana, Aitor Zuberogoitia and Benat Flores from the Mondragon University, Spain. Design Thinking is a methodology that seeks to inspire students to find, build and test solutions for problems faced by real media companies and public broadcasting institutions.  However working with the theory in real life is not an easy task. The professors from the Mondragon University were presenting their investigations on a laboratory course called Goikolab, which is part of the final year of the Media Studies degree at Mondragon University. Analysing blog posts, reflection sheets and focus interview from six 4th year students and four academic tutors, the professors could point out that the multidisciplinary aims could not be implemented in a satisfying way and the Design Thinking model was not fully carried out. Especially time was an issue during the project. Overall the laboratory work was a positive experience for the students as well as teachers, but to improve the course, there is a need for a stronger definition of creativity and innovation within the context of the laboratory work. Also there is a need for a tool of measurement of creative confidence and innovation. 

Innovation was the keyword of the last panel speaker. Paulo Frias from the University of Porto, Portugal was sharing his very positive experiences from the cooperative work between the future journalist, designers and developers of the University of Porto and the daily newspaper Público. Together they have developed an online magazine called P3. The project has been running since 2010 and five years later P3 still define strategies coming from the journalist education system, like Master or PhD specific research projects. The conclusion must, according to Paulo Frias, be that during the internship in the newsroom the students add an important value to the media organization cause they are able to incorporate different and new concepts. On the other hand the media market should be seen as an opportunity in terms of developing innovation and entrepreneur curriculum in journalistic education.

The panel was moderated by Radu Meza from the University of Babes-Bolyai, who in the end started a discussion about innovation in journalism schools. An interesting conclusion was made by the panellists and the audience: that to be innovative it is necessary to get the students interested in journalism history and theory. 

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