The 21st century journalist rarely has time to reflect on her practice and profession. How do you sit down and analyse your own newswork when you are chasing 24/7 rolling deadlines and algorithm-inspired audience interaction? Time for newsroom-based learning and mentorship is rare.
That is where journalism studies as both academic field of enquiry and learning approach comes in. Someone has to look at why and how journalism happens. And, perhaps more importantly, has to guide a new generation of media professionals in thinking critically about their profession – while doing journalism.
My own journey into academia was thus triggered by both an interest in studying what happens within a changing newsroom, as well as by my love for mentorship. As so-called “hackademic” a part of me still hankers after the adrenaline-rush of chasing a deadline. Yet I have come to value the importance of studying journalism on a more formal level – and specifically within the university environment.
I have now been in the academy almost as long as I had been in the newsroom. But I will always believe that journalists-turned-educators (and researchers) will have just that little bit more insight into what happens inside the so-called “black box” of newswork.
The future of journalism and of tertiary journalism education is fraught with challenges. But there are also opportunities for growth and innovation. I hope to be part of this exciting future.