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.
What skills do journalists need? Why do they need them? What do we even mean by “skill” in the first place? In journalism research, the issue of skill has mainly been studied as an applied issue closely linked to journalism education. The main concern has been whether journalism education equips students with the skills they need to succeed in the job market, as well as with the skills they need to fulfill journalism’s democratic function. There is a long-standing conflict between these two “skill goals” of journalism education, where vocational or practical skills are often viewed as (at least potentially) in opposition to academic or theoretical skills. Journalism students need vocational skills in order to satisfy employer needs, and academic skills in order to satisfy wider societal needs. Another key research concern in this area has been the issue of de-skilling: the idea that journalistic work gradually becomes less and less skilled as employers mainly demand quicker outputs across different media platforms, rather than the production of quality content. Another element of the deskilling idea is that experienced (older) journalists are phased out and/or replaced with less experienced (younger) and therefore cheaper journalists who do not necessarily possess specific or very in-depth training in journalism. This process is mainly linked to the ongoing commercialization and digitalization of journalism. Empirically, however, many research results point instead either to a general upskilling of journalism (a higher and higher share of the workforce have a university degree, for example) or to the fact that deskilling may occur in parts of the occupation, whereas other parts may experience upskilling. All of this research has in common that skill is rarely defined and that analyses of skill rarely reference the wider sociological and psychological literature on skill, expertise, and competence. A few scholars have analyzed skill among journalists at a higher level of abstraction, attempting to define what the core expertise or skill of journalism actually is. This research direction is key to the future development of research on journalism and skill.
Journalism education at the college level was first offered in 1869, and developed primarily in the United States. No other country has had a similar impact on the discipline, and the United States’ pioneering role has shaped curricula around the world. While journalism education was also offered in Europe throughout the 20th century, especially from the 1980s onwards, its global spread came in the 1990s and 2000s. This is closely linked to the proliferation of media in countries where economic growth, technological progress, and rising literacy have combined to create a dramatic increase in readership and audience, especially in the most populous nations, China and India, but also in Africa and Latin America. In 2013, the census of journalism education programs kept by the World Journalism Education Council listed almost 2,400 programs globally. This spread does not only mean a shift in geographical terms, but also in conceptual terms. North American scholars imagined journalism as central to democratic life. But the notion of journalism serving first and foremost democracy puts it at odds with other parts of the world, where different forms of governance are prevalent. This necessitated the American inspired image of journalism, legitimized by its centrality to democracy, to be modified. In this global process, journalism education importantly did not relinquish its normative constituent, but moved it to the ideal of journalism and journalists serving the public. Equally remarkable, and telling, is the consistency of subjects in curricula around the globe, especially in what are deemed the vocationally relevant subjects. In 2007, and again in 2013, UNESCO released model curricula for journalism education. These are ostensibly directed toward developing countries and emerging democracies, but are used globally and in countries as diverse as Afghanistan and Rwanda. This has raised the question of whether a homogenization of journalism around the world could be observed. At this stage, however, differing political, cultural, and religious conditions exert too much influence on a country’s journalistic output for this to occur. The intentions behind the support for journalism education vary over time and between countries. Although journalism education is never openly acknowledged as an ideological battleground, it has been used to spread influence. After the disbandment of the Soviet Bloc, the United States and European nations sent journalism educators to the countries of the former Soviet Bloc, ostensibly to teach journalists the values of a free press, but also to build their commercial interests in new media markets. In Africa, after decades of Western assistance in media education,, China has attempted to challenge the dominance of the traditionally Western helpers, although with limited success. The most prevalent and persistent issue regarding the content of journalism education has been the theory-practice division. This extends to the suitability of journalism education as a tertiary study area and the composition of its curricula, which have been debated since its inception. The earliest programs in formal journalism education in the United States consisted of teaching technical skills as well as writing and editing. This inclusion of skills training pointed from the very beginning to the gulf journalism education would have to bridge in academic institutions. Many countries, notably the United Kingdom, left the training of journalists to the industry until the 1990s. Academic literature, by its very nature, argues for the place of journalism education in academia. The voices against come from the industry, where employers and editors see journalism education as theory-laden and out of touch with industry realities. Since the 1990s, media companies have largely accepted that journalism training be done in colleges and universities, mostly because it frees valuable resources in a strained industry. All the same, the criteria for measuring success in journalism education continue to differ between the industry and the academy. The debates on what and how to teach are similarly divergent, although since the early 2000s the idea of educating future journalists as “reflective practitioners” seems to have taken hold. But this comes at a time when in North America, Europe, and Australia the main challenge for journalism education is the fragility of legacy media, which traditionally absorbed the highest number of graduates. Media sustainability has therefore been named as one of the foremost concerns for journalism education. In times of digital journalism, the challenges for journalists come from many sides. Not only the precariousness of employment, but also the diminishing of authority is affecting the profession. Professionalism is again emerging as a vital concept, although it remains as contentious as ever. At a time when journalistic authority is under attack, professionalism is seen as a tool in the boundary-work taking place between journalists, a public participating in news creation and distribution, tweeters, and bloggers. Journalism schools are using various ways to train journalists for a new, shared world. This includes teaching “entrepreneurial journalism” in order to prepare their students for an anticipated de-institutionalized future. While much has been written about how and what journalism education should be, little research has been done on the effects of journalism education. A major problem is the difficulty of empirically quantifying this influence. One area where the impact of journalism education can be researched is on students during their years of study, although this goes only a small way toward establishing the influence that journalism education has on the practicing journalist. Since 1869, much has changed yet some things remain. Journalism education will continue to be characterized by its dichotomous nature. It will remain caught between theory and practice, normative and empirical, academy and industry, market and public service, dependence and autonomy.
Levi Obijiofor and Folker Hanusch
Two dominant approaches underline the theory, practice, and methodology of global journalism. The first approach captures the various ways that journalism is practiced in different countries. This is reflected in the burgeoning field of comparative journalism studies. The second approach examines the underlying notion of globalization of the interconnected nature of the world and of global journalistic practices that not only relativize the significance of the nation state but also highlight the forces that shape the global village. Each of these perspectives has implications for journalism practice and how the world is understood. Each is influenced by complexities of the existing environment in which journalism is practiced, such as sociocultural practices and barriers, as well as economic, institutional, structural, legal, and political forces that inform journalism at national and international levels. Regardless of the differences, the two approaches are interrelated in various ways. They examine the interlocking relationship between journalism and globalization; factors that influence global news flows and foreign reporting; diverse journalistic practices and modes of education; and global journalism ethics. Altogether these perspectives provide rich analytical insights and background into the past, current, and emerging issues that inform global journalism.