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AJE Winter Conference 2017: See our speakers’ slides

Here are our speakers’ slides from the AJE Winter Conference 2017 – Futureproofing Journalism Education.

Thank you to University of Westminster for hosting the event.

Prof. Sarah Niblock, University of Westminster

Somewhere over the intro: a review of literature on the future of journalism education

Prof Niblock reviewed a selection of the recent literature and commentary speculating on the future of journalism education for the digital age.

While research has customarily centred on the future of journalism per se as the driver for teaching approaches, a growing body of work from both sides of the Atlantic is questioning that position. Increasingly, journalism education itself is viewed as the means to safeguard journalism’s future.

However, there are strong differences in opinion as to what journalism education should look like, exhibiting a continuing division between theoretical and professional viewpoints. This raises fundamental questions – and opportunities – appertaining to the ontology of the subject.

Dr. Faith Gordon, University of Westminster

Journalists’ Use of Children’s Social Media Profiles: Contemporary Ethical Issues concerning Privacy, Rights and Regulatory Guidelines

Content analysis of media coverage demonstrates how journalists have used imagery and comments accessed from children’s social media accounts.

The revised Editors’ Code of Practice (January 2016) failed to provide crucial advice on the use of social media images of children (Gordon, 2016).

This paper is derived in research conducted over a decade in Northern Ireland and includes interviews with media professionals, children, young people, their advocates, politicians and police officers.

This study found that newspapers routinely printed photographs accessed from social networking sites of children and young people who were ‘in conflict with the law’ or young people who have taken their own lives. The negative impact of this type of journalistic practice was raised by the charity the Samaritans in its submission to the Leveson Inquiry.

This paper argues that curricula for initial journalism training; for professional development, as well as the regulatory framework, should full engage with and embed children’s rights into all aspects of policy and practice.

Associate Professor Alison Baverstock, University of Kingston

Dr Debora Wenger, University of Mississippi.

What value do academic qualifications have in a profession-oriented discipline?

Profession-oriented disciplines blend professional practice at the highest level with academic thinking; an ideal basis for seeking employment.

Students emerge with key practical skills but also able to think and plan; to function in their chosen industry now – and manage future workplace issues we don’t even yet anticipate.

For similar reasons, the scholarly validation of work that has a relevance to both the workplace and the academy, through PhD by Publication, has a particular significance.

But acceptance of PhD by Publication is by no means fully accepted within HE, and subjecting your work to academic scrutiny may feel uncomfortable, particularly if the discipline itself lacks full acknowledgement.

Dr Debora Wenger’s recent PhD by Publication at Kingston confirmed not only the influence she exercises in both her profession and her institution, but also modelled the benefits of life-long learning to her students. Here both supervisor and student reflect on the processes involved and discuss whether – and why – it was worth doing.

Dr Karen Fowler-Watt, Bournemouth University

Global Voices in Journalism Education

Journalists decide whose voice is heard – decisions often determined by the limits of time, social milieu and newsroom environments: This paper shared the initial findings of a pedagogic project, working with Global Voices, to embrace the blogosphere, citizen – witnessing (Allan, 2013) and interrogate mainstream media. through curriculum design.

Students engage critically with issues such as representing Islam, working in divided communities and covering stories that are often poorly-reported.

Ethics, objectivity and verification are scrutinised through the lens of critical self- reflection.  In individual presentations, the students displayed raised awareness of how they, in future, as journalists, would strive to ‘give voice to the voiceless’.

Kate Watkins, University of Leeds

How Media Futures could inspire your students to a better future

In the context of TEF students’ post-graduation outcomes have become increasingly important to Schools. This is particularly the case in the media and creative industries where students have typically taken a number of years to find graduate-level employment.

In response to the challenge of employability in the media, I have created a personal and professional development programme called ‘Media Futures’.

A series of weekly timetabled talks, workshops, careers events and networking, Media Futures has had a significant impact on student outcomes with the Schools DHLE score increasing by 15% this year, making it one of the best in the University.

This presentation provided an overview of Media Futures and how it is working for our students.

Michael Gilson, former newspaper editor

Michael is a former newspaper editor of 20 years standing. His titles include the Belfast Telegraph, The Scotsman, The News, Portsmouth and until recently The Argus, Brighton.

His recent essay The Decline of Journalism, the Democratic Deficit and Why it Should Concern Us All was published this year in Last Words? (Abramis Books).

In 2014 he was the Northern Ireland Journalist of the Year and his newspapers have been regular award-winners.

He has also served on the former Press Complaints Commission code committee for six years until 2009 and until recently was a director of the Regulatory Funding Company which oversees the new self-regulatory press body IPSO.

He has always taking an interest in journalism training given many talks and seminars at places such as Highbury College, Portsmouth and the University of Sussex.

Dr Lada Trifonova Price, University of Sheffield

“Journalism in Danger”: Engaging students outside the curriculum

This presentation will highlight the steps that the Department of Journalism Studies at the University of Sheffield is taking to prepare young and future journalists for the harsh realities that journalists worldwide face while reporting.

Our educational strategy aims to create both curriculum and extra curriculum opportunities for student engagement with issues related to media freedom, threats to journalism and the consequences of impunity.

he focus of this presentation is the Department’s annual case study research project titled “Journalism in Danger”, which takes place during our annual International Journalism Week in November. The project was developed after consultation with editors and senior journalists from UK media organisations.

It is specifically designed as “teamwork” between students, tasked with investigating journalism safety and physical and political constraints to reporting in different regions of the world.

We found that the project is valuable to students in strengthening their analytical and research skills, and increasing their understanding of a real-life media and journalism topical issue.

The presentation will discuss how this work is informing our current and future curriculum design.


Dr An Nguyen, Bournemouth University

Reasoning and questioning, not calculation: a suggested no-formula curriculum for teaching statistics to journalists

Many journalists, confessing that they hate math at school and data make them feel dizzy, tend to dismiss statistics altogether.

This traditional “number phobia” is not because of statistics per se, but because their nature is either vastly misunderstood or too narrowly understood.

This paper sets out first to demonstrate that the job of handling numbers for the news is often wrongly perceived as that of measuring, calculating and analysing things with eye-numbing formulae.

What journalists need, for the most part, is not a set of skills to calculate or create their own data but one to use logical, valid reasoning and to apply to data the same probing and enquiring mind that is essential for any other newswork.

On that basis, the author will propose a core curriculum for teaching statistical analysis as journalism, which includes five key dimensions: (a) introduction to statistical reasoning; (b) finding and acquiring data, (c) exploring and evaluating their real meanings in context, (d) investigating non-technical factors shaping them (e.g. source motives), and (e) presenting them in a balanced, fair, accurate, accessible and engaging manner.

The basic statistical knowledge that journalists need – e.g. understanding chance, checking datasets, assessing the reliability and validity and different types of data, working with common statistics such as “averages”, mere versus relative frequencies, two-way tables, correlations, relative versus absolute risks and so on – will be embedded in each of the dimensions, especially the second and third one.