Innovation and entrepreneurship are the new pillars of journalism education

Published on by Astrid Ildor (author)

Journalism schools, students and teachers must ride the wave of new technology flushing in over the media landscape these years. Despite cultural and traditional differences European universities can benefit from each other in this adaption – that was the overall outcome of three days intense knowledge exchange in Barcelona.

The three days conference Shaping the Future of News Media at Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona is over, but left behind is a strong message to the journalism schools; that technology is paramount for the future of journalism and that the adaption of the journalistic curriculum must be done paying big attention to journalist ethics and empathy.

Shaping the Future of News Media has been a closure of the project Integrated Journalism in Europe and around 100 journalist teachers, professors and students from all over the world has been attending a great variety of plenary sessions, parallel panels and workshops.

The pivotal question of the conference has been how journalism education should react to the rapid and on-going changes in the media industry?

“The profession we are teaching for is losing more and more of its former power and we can not be sure if what we are teaching today will have relevance in the news market tomorrow. One of the fundamental issues of our profession as educators is that we are simply lacking knowledge about our field. Most of what we know about our profession as journalism educators is best-practice examples and most of what we do in our programs is trial-and-error. This may not be enough anymore,” said Dr. Michael Harnischmacher from the University of Trier, Germany who was presenting twice at the parallel panels session Thursday afternoon.

Keynote speaker Dr. Donica Mensing from the University of Nevada agreed that the most pervasive issue that journalism schools are facing is how to integrate the theory-practice division in a smart way. 

“We must invest in professional development and encourage every faculty member to embody practice and theory in their work with students and in their scholarships,” Donica Mensing said at the plenary session Thursday morning.

Many schools around Europe are already implementing courses on integrated journalism and the conference was a great moderator for exchanging knowledge and experiences - from the Integrated Journalism Workshop at Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona to the online magazine P3, a cooperation between Portuguese newspaper Público and the University of Porto.

Overall the students are highly motivated on the new curriculum but there is still a way to go before the multidisciplinary work is integrated in a satisfying way. However there is no doubt that all over Europe innovation and entrepreneurship are pillars in the new generation of journalism education.

Also classroom discussions on ethics and laws are more relevant than ever given the blistering speed of wireless transmission and audience connectivity. The future generation of journalists are digital narratives but their professional identity can be a fickle mate if the students are not been trained in how to safeguard it. That was a key conclusion of yet another set of discussions. 

Finally the conference ended with the five partner universities – from Spain, Denmark, Romania, Sweden and France - presenting a brief conclusion on their work. Especially they pointed out a need to develop new European journalism textbooks.

“Even though there are big cultural and traditional differences from country to country some common European references would be a great and helpful contribute for all the universities in the transformation of their local journalism educations,” Dr. Jacques Guyot from the Université Paris 8 stated as a closure of the conference.

Tipsheets, pedagogical recommendations and other results from the project can be seen on:
integratedjournalism.upf.edu as well as chronicles from the conference sessions can be read on: news.euromain.net

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