Global Journalism Education
- Charles SelfCharles SelfGaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Oklahoma
The number of formal programs educating and training young people to work in journalism and mass communication media organizations has grown substantially worldwide since the 1920s. Estimates put the number of college and university programs well beyond 2,500, with the United States and China exhibiting the largest numbers. These estimates do not count many of the private training programs offered by for-profit companies. Beyond these programs, media organizations, foundations, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), journalist associations, and media unions offer training to help students and journalists update their skills in a field undergoing rapid change.
Much of this growth is because journalism itself has commanded attention from organizations of all kinds in the 21st century: governments, private industry, nonprofits, NGOs, sports organizations—leaders in virtually all forms of human activity have come to believe that media play a powerful role in shaping public opinion.
This attention has led societies around the globe to invest in training journalists and media workers. Some of these investments have been through higher education. Others have been through private training institutes and organizations, NGOs, and private foundations.
New types of media jobs have developed since the 1970s. Strategic communication and promotion industries dedicated to shaping public discourse have expanded around the world.
New media technologies have changed journalism itself, creating new kinds of journalism jobs worldwide. Digital innovation has changed the structure of traditional media industries. As new forms have emerged, these digital innovations have expanded both the types and numbers of media jobs available.
These new types of media jobs have changed how journalism students are educated and trained. Demand for trained workers has increased and skill sets have changed.
This has altered thinking about journalism education around the globe. Journalism educators have introduced new types of training into the curriculum, including entirely new topics and new types of majors in many countries.
Similarities in how journalism is taught, based on shared educational needs and skills, have grown, while historically important ideological differences in teaching journalism have weakened.
Shared challenges include how to teach media technologies, ethics, fact-checking, and coping with disinformation and fake news. They also include preparing journalism students to deal with strategic manipulation, partisan hostility, threats, and shifting concepts of appropriate online media discourse in social media, blogs, tweets, and online comments.
Despite these common challenges and shared approaches, unique circumstances in each society still lead to differences in how journalism is taught around the world. These differences can be quite pronounced. These circumstances include resource shortages, competing training traditions, weak industry support, sociopolitical differences, and censorship.
Across the globe it is clear that education in journalism and media will continue to expand as changing media technologies exert a growing influence on public discourse.
Journalism education is changing in every country as: (1) technologies reshape it, (2) media theories shift teaching techniques, (3) new technologies create newly shared ideas about teaching journalism, (4) unique circumstances in each country still produce different approaches, and (5) it expands in different regions of the world.