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Journalism education must play catch-up

3 May 2011

Needs improvement: Journalism education in Indonesia.

This need was acknowledged in October 2009 at a meeting organized by UNESCO Jakarta in partnership with the Indonesian Newspaper Publishers Association.

Updating the curriculum is the key to the improvements that must be made. However, Indonesia is in the same boat as the developed countries in this aspect: To update what is taught in the classroom, first the information in the teacher’s head must be updated.

This need exists both the schools of journalism and in the training institutes — “including in-house training in media organizations,” according to an article at the UNESCO website.

UNESCO’s Model Curricula for Journalism Education was discussed at the meeting — but there is a BIG problem with the model today (it was written in 2007). The information and suggested books, etc., for all aspects of online journalism in the model are already out of date. If educators today, in 2011, follow them, they will be far behind what is really happening in the journalism field worldwide.

What is the solution? It’s very difficult to keep up with the fast pace of change in technology and ICTs — but it is POSSIBLE.

  • One important strategy is to involve the students in observation and analysis. If they are required to seek out examples of NEW and cutting-edge examples of journalism practices online (from their own country and also other countries), then they can learn about the latest techniques — and the teacher can learn alongside them.
  • Another piece of the puzzle is experimentation. If students are assigned to experiment with new ways to tell a story and report about what is happening all around them, any qualified journalist or journalism educator can point out the flaws in the journalism — for example, a teacher may not know how to make a video, but he or she can see if the video is accurate and interesting and complete. The teacher can also easily see if the video is blurry and hear if the audio quality is poor.

Therefore, teachers of journalism should not be afraid to bring new ideas and new skills into their teaching. It will help them stay current and relevant in their teaching, and the students will learn much more than they could from an out-of-date book.

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