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Academic Journalism

Thought-provoking editorial in Svenska Dagbladet today about how the journalism education at the University of Stockholm, JMK, has developed further and further away from journalistic reality.

Over a period of years, JMK has been made more and more academic, and practical vocational training has gradually been replaced by academic research and ‘studying mass media from a cultural perspective’, Stefan Koskinen of the Swedish Newspaper Publishers’ Association argues.

Succinctly, he asks: ”One is led to wonder if not JMK’s management uses the institution's excellent reputation … to attract ambitious students, who wants to become working journalists, to an education where they become something else entirely”.

This resonates strongly with my experience from the media and communications course I briefly attended at Sussex University some ten years ago (I abandoned the course after five weeks). I already had two years experience in the media when I started the course; it turned out to have very little to do with the reality of media as I knew it and was much too theoretical for my purposes (besides, those ‘academic’ discussions about page three girls; I’d been through those in my early teens while attending Norwegian high school - the academic level the course was taught at was degrading). It’s a scandal of sorts how many Scandinavian students are fooled into spending fortunes on degrees in media studies in England while thinking it will equip them to become journalists, and a much bigger scandal if Stockholm University is turning its journalism school into a mass media and communications school in everything but the name. Journalism is a craft, not an academic discipline and there’s a limit to how many souls can find gainful employment theorising about page three girls.

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