Jschool in the media

Boost for budding journalists

South-West News, 6 January 2010

By Christopher O'Leary

JOHN Henningham left his university post nine years ago to open a world-class journalism school.

The move paid dividends last month when Professor Henningham announced his organisation, JSchool, received FEE-HELP registration from the Federal Government.

He hopes to attract an additional 15 students to study this year as they could choose to study at JSchool and have their fees deferred.

But the former UQ professor and journalist for The Australian said he intended to maintain the intimate feel of the school.

‘‘We want to keep the small feel of the course,’’ he said. ‘‘Students have weekly one-to-one meetings with staff. They also can receive other personal assistance from staff.’’

Professor Henningham said the s c h o o l ’ s Diploma o f Journalism provided students with the best training to survive in the media and succeed.

He said many university courses did not teach students enough practical skills to prepare them for newsrooms.

‘‘We could see there was a better way of preparing journalists by taking the best from cadetships and the university system,’’ he said.

‘‘Students learn by doing. They go to court, council meetings and Parliament House, and they learn on the job.’’

He said many graduates were now working at The Courier-Mail, News.com.au, The Gold Coast Bulletin, and the Sydney Morning Herald.

■ For more information visit www.jschool.com.au or phone 1300 85 99 75.

How to break into journalism

Courier-Mail (CareerOne), 28 November 2009

Journalism requires passion and a willingness to be a news junkie, reports Elizabeth Allen.

Ben Hawke, executive producer of the ABC’s 7.30 Report, lives life in the fast lane of daily journalism.

“It’s good; it’s the last show standing in a way,’’ he says of the quality current affairs show produced out of Sydney.

Hawke is speaking from the ABC’s Brisbane studio, where he is filling in as executive producer of Australian Story while also producing the 7.30 Report.

Between taking calls for the night’s edition, Hawke describes the daily routine: ``We do a couple of conference calls in the morning - interstate hook-ups - to plan what we are going to do that day. Then it’s basically get in there, work our way through it, go to air and finish about 8 o’clock.’’

Hawke, 55, makes it sound deceptively simple. And wearing two hats obviously doesn’t faze him.

Hawke has worn a lot of different hats since beginning his journalism career straight from school with a cadetship at The Australian newspaper in 1973.

From there, he moved to the ABC, then to Channel Nine’s Sixty Minutes, on to Sky television in the UK and back to Nine. Along the way he worked for the ABC’s Nationwide, had a stint with Nine’s A Current Affair and Sunday, spent five years with Australian Story in Brisbane and has been with the 7.30 Report for the past three years.

Hawke says he has “liked moving around a bit”.

“I counted up the other day that I’ve been in and out of the ABC 10 times,” he says.

With such varied industry experience, he is well-placed to advise the many young people who aspire to a journalism career despite tough times in the industry.

Hawke describes himself as “not much of a fan of the university journalism school” and says he wants to see evidence of published articles, previous jobs or work experience when assessing hundreds of job applications each year.

“Just doing a degree is not enough,” he says. “Don’t just say, ‘I’ve got a journalism degree’.

“So do 3000 other people. There’s a limited number of jobs.”

He advises young aspirants to write articles for community papers or magazines while at uni and, after graduation, to take any job they can - be it on a small rural paper or a regional radio or television station.

“Get the job, any job,” Hawke says.

“If someone’s had a job, I’m going to look at them much more to hire them than someone who’s just been to UQ (University of Queensland).”

When enrolling at university, Hawke advises against doing a straight journalism degree - although he says some journalism subjects taken as part of another degree can be useful.

“If people are going to get a degree, get a good degree. Get a law degree, a history degree,” he says.

“You’ve either got it in you to be a good journalist or you don’t. Yes, you can learn (journalism at university) but unless you have done some writing at uni or worked on a small paper, and are prepared to read the papers and be a news junkie, forget it.

“Do internships. Get your foot in the door. You have to show you have get up and go and have a passion for it.”

Hawke is, however, an “unashamed” fan of Brisbane’s Jschool, founded by former UQ academic and journalist Dr John Henningham.

He admires the 10-month HECS-supported course’s emphasis on real-life exercises - covering police rounds, courts, council and doing arts reviews - complemented by internships.

“I liked it (the school) so much I sent my own son there,” he says.

As for his own career, Hawke says he moved from newspaper to television reporting because he “liked the visual side of things”, then switched to producing.

“I was a better producer than reporter but I think it’s handy to be on the other side of the camera to know what’s required when you are producing,” he says.

Hawke obviously finds his profession deeply satisfying but he cautions that journalism is not a path to (financial) riches.

“The money (at the ABC) is very average,” he says.

“But the work is lovely.”

Australian journalist honoured for contribution to Asia Pacific

Radio Australia, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 23 October 2009

The director of Australia's Asia Pacific Journalism Centre is being honoured for his work in helping journalists from developing countries across the region.

John Wallace is being awarded an honorary doctorate at a graduation ceremony in Brisbane of the Journalism Education and Training College, J-School, where he'll also be giving an address.

Presenter: Sen Lam
Speaker: John Wallace, director of Australia's Asia Pacific Journalism Centre.
* Listen:
* Windows Media Source: ABC Radio Australia (including link to interview)

Shrinking media coverage of world news a concern: expert

The Independent, Brisbane, November 2009

The declining coverage of world news as cash-strapped media organisations cut costs is one of the big challenges facing the fourth estate today, a media leader says.

John Walllace, program director with the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre in Melbourne, was addressing the 2009 graduation ceremony for Jschool based in Brisbane.

College founder Professor John Henningham presented him with the college’s honorary degree of doctor of journalism for his contribution over many years to journalism education and his role at the APJC in fostering professional development programs in overseas countries, especially south-east Asia.

Dr Wallace told the graduating students: “You will know from your study this year that journalism, to be successful, needs to take account of the needs and interests of readers, listeners and viewers in the communities it serves.

“This push for local relevance can be seen as a natural phenomenon; it makes sense that we are interested most in the things closest to us. However, the danger is that the local perspective will drown out important news from the outside world."

This concern had been raised 10 years ago by a group of senior American journalists who looked at the state of the American newspaper industry and found that the space devoted to international news in US print media had declined over the years. A similar, less extreme, trend was observed here in Australia.

“Since then, the trend seems to be continuing. The big ‘high drama’ global news stories are covered – September 11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the global financial crisis, tsunamis and climate change – but, overall, foreign news coverage is being squeezed as news organisations fight to contain costs as they deal with competition from new media platforms.

“One creative response to this concern has been the development of courses for journalists promoting the idea of "building up the connection between the local and the global".

"The Poynter Institute in Florida is one organisation that runs such programs. Part of the idea is to recognise that many international stories have a local angle, and so can be made into local stories. For example, if there's a story about poisonous toys being manufactured overseas, a reporter can see if they are being sold here; if a new version of flu breaks out overseas, a reporter can investigate what precautions are being taken here to reduce the threat."

Dr Wallace told the graduates that one of the biggest challenges ahead for journalism - whatever media platform it operates on - would be to work out ways to build up informed coverage of international news and current affairs.

“The need for this has become more urgent as people throughout the world need better information on international matters to enable them to cope with living in an increasingly global society.

“It's partly a matter of citizens needing to know what is reasonable internationally in terms of advancing their national interests. And it's also about being better able to carry out our increasing global responsibilities, such as playing our part in responding to the challenge of climate change.

“To report this more global world, journalists of the future will, I am quite sure, be required to develop a more global perspective, while not forgetting, of course, the need to understand the interests of local communities."

Dr Wallace said that options for professional journalism study were quite limited in many parts of the world, with many young people finding their way into journalism without preparation, and with opportunities for in-house training also quite limited.

“This is one of the things the Asia Pacific Journalism Centre tries to do something about - by providing professional development programs for working journalists in the Asia Pacific region, particularly in those countries closest to Australia, such as East Timor, Indonesia, PNG and other southwest Pacific countries."

Journalism support

Diary, The Australian (Media), 28 September 2009

John Henningham, the director of Jschool: Journalism Education & Training was delighted to get the nod from Canberra to be registered as a "fee-help" provider.

"This means that students will be able to get government loans to study our one-year Diploma of Journalism. This levels the playing field," Henningham told Diary.

"Up to now, undergraduate journalism students have had to enrol in a three-year university course to be eligible for government support."

Doctorate for Owen

Diary, The Australian (Media), 3 November 2008

Peter Owen, group executive editor of APN Australian Publishing has, been given an honorary doctorate in journalism by Brisbane’s Jschool college.

Owen looks after 14 regional dailies and nearly 60 non-dailies. He has also been editor-in-chief of Rural Press Queensland and has edited the Sunshine Coast Daily, the Queensland Times and Queensland Country Life. Owen launched Sunshine Coast Sunday, Australia’s only regional Sunday newspaper.

Jschool scoops the pool

Diary, The Australian (Media), 7 October 2008

Brisbane has continued its reign as the source of some of modern journalism’s most respected practitioners — with JSchool named as the top journalism school for the second year running.

But after three Queensland schools (including Central Queensland University and the University of the Sunshine Coast) shared 100 per cent satisfaction ratings by graduates last year, it seems NSW and Victoria are catching up. Joining JSchool in top spot this year are Charles Sturt University and RMIT.

Call for a Courier competitor

The Australian, 7 December 2006

By Andrew Fraser

A SENIOR journalism academic has called on Fairfax to consider a new daily newspaper for southeast Queensland, based on the Rural Press printing works in Brisbane. Rural Press prints Queensland Country Life, the North Queensland Register, the Bayside Bulletin, the Trading Post and other commercial printing jobs at its large plant at Ormiston on Brisbane's bayside.

Australia's first journalism professor, John Henningham of the privately run JSchool in Brisbane, said the massive population growth in southeast Queensland provided a market that could be serviced by more than the Courier-Mail.

"There's a growing number of people who are moving to Queensland from Sydney and Melbourne who in my view would be interested in a Fairfax-style daily newspaper," Professor Henningham said.

Professor Henningham said one possible beachhead into the market would be a Sunday newspaper that could take on the Sunday Mail.

In the past few weeks Fairfax has beefed up its Brisbane bureau with three new journalists providing online services.

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has previously called for more competition to the Courier-Mail, but yesterday he was more circumspect.

"Fairfax are not going to engage News Limited in the southeast corner outside of what they currently have," he said. "I wish it was other than it is but it's not."

Mr Beattie did, however, launch a strong attack on Rural Press's Queensland Country Life which has been a strong critic of his Government. "I have been worried for some time that our farmers have not been given a reasonable go and I hope that a (media ownership) consolidation may mean better outlets for farmers," he said.

"Country Life now is basically a National Party newspaper and it doesn't represent what's happening for farmers. It's a waste of money."

Source: The Australian


Courier-Mail, 25 October 2006, p.20 ("IQ" education pages)

Graduates from Brisbane's independent city-based journalism college Jschool are being snapped up by media organisations.

Calls for a second Brisbane newspaper

Australian Associated Press, 24 October 2006

By Steve Connolly

Rival newspaper groups should be challenging News Limited's dominance of the fast growing Brisbane market, an independent publisher says.

Don Gordon-Brown, co-publisher of community paper The Independent, said a second daily paper to take on The Courier Mail in Brisbane would promote competition and diversity.

"Brisbane not only deserves but demands a second daily newspaper," Mr Gordon-Brown said.

"We are in the fastest growing part of Australia. The Courier and Sunday Mails badly need competition, but the other major players are reluctant to come in, either because of the cost or the risk of having (Rupert) Murdoch retaliate in areas where they make their money.

"And the partially deregulated media market is probably not going to change that one iota."

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has previously called for Brisbane to have a second newspaper because "I think we need the competition".

The Courier Mail's editor David Fagan has said his paper, which in March switched from a broadsheet to tabloid format, would welcome a rival newspaper.

Mr Gordon-Brown called on publishers such as Fairfax and Australian Provincial Newspapers (APN) to enter the Brisbane market.

"So here's a challenge to the moguls out there. And I guess the person I'd pitch this to the most is Tony O'Reilly of The Independent in the UK. He's got the big presses around Brisbane. He's got the staff and the expertise."

Mr Gordon-Brown, who also publishes satirical monthly newspaper The Bug, was speaking at a graduation ceremony for Brisbane's Jschool journalism college.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the college for services to independent journalism.

Director of Jschool Professor John Henningham said Mr Gordon-Brown had made a tremendous contribution to diversity of expression in Brisbane and to mentoring of young journalists.

What makes a good school of journalism

The Australian, September 21, 2006, p.17

JOURNALISM courses run by the University of the Sunshine Coast, the University of Western Sydney and the private Brisbane college Jschool have been judged the best by their students.

All the graduates of those courses who returned questionnaires in the annual Graduate Careers Council of Australia survey said they were very satisfied or satisfied.

Rounding out the top five were Perth’s Murdoch University and Sydney’s University of Technology, with 88 per cent of their graduates declaring themselves satisfied.

The University of Newcastle, University of Queensland, Charles Sturt University, the University of Wollongong and Southern Cross University had satisfaction ratings of 50 per cent, meaning half their journalism major graduates were very dissatisfied, dissatisfied or neutral about their experience.

The annual graduate course experience survey polls the attitudes of graduates towards their courses and the skills they acquire through tertiary education.

As a private college, Jschool wasn’t included in the survey, but founder Professor John Henningham distributed the same questionnaire to his half dozen graduates. He also mined the published survey results to produce the league table. The survey showed newer, smaller schools were outdoing better-known courses which provided less individual attention and field work, Professor Henningham said. “The problem with the bigger courses is they have huge numbers. Hundreds of students begin each year and … journalism is just one subject they do. I don’t think they offer up a great camaraderie or a real excitement about journalism.”

Students appreciated individual feedback and also valued practical training in skills such as shorthand over academic theorising, Henningham said.

“The approach to journalism education we have developed involves lots of reporting and writing and a real focus on journalism as a career, not simply on having book knowledge.”

Overall, a national average of 66.5 per cent of journalism-school graduates were satisfied with their course and 64.5 per cent were satisfied with their generic skills, but only 50.8 per cent were satisfied with the teaching of their course.

Dr Stephen Lamble, head of the communication school at Sunshine Coast, endorsed Jschool’s league table, saying his university had also examined the raw data with the same results. Sunshine Coast was among the top three performers in the survey, a result Dr Lamble attributed to its small class sizes, experienced teachers and hands-on training. “We have a strong practical emphasis based on good sound theory,” he said. “Every one of our lecturers is a working journalist or a former journalist. As far as I’m aware, we’re the only journalism course apart from Jschool that offers every student an internship as part of the course.”

Sunshine Coast turned out 30 to 50 journalism graduates a year and would limit its course size to that number, Dr Lamble said. “We have close to 100 per cent employment of our graduates.”

Although the University of Wollongong ranked poorly in the survey, Dr Stephen Tanner, head of its school of journalism and creative writing, said post-graduates had been very supportive of its program. However, “at an undergraduate level we recognised there was a need to increase the number of journalism subjects the students do,” he said. From next year a full bachelor of journalism degree with more than 20 subjects will be offered.

“That is in response to concerns students have raised about the number and range of subjects on offer here.”


Course and percentage satisfaction rating

1. Jschool: Journalism Education & Training: 100%
1. University of the Sunshine Coast: 100%
1. University of Western Sydney: 100%
4. Murdoch University: 88%
4. University of Technology, Sydney: 88%
6. University of Canberra: 77%
7. La Trobe University: 75%
8. University of South Australia: 74%
9. Deakin University: 73%
10. Monash University: 72%
11. University of Tasmania: 70%
12. University of Southern Queensland: 68%
13. Griffith University: 67%
14. Queensland University of Technology: 63%
15. James Cook University: 61%
15. Curtin University of Technology: 61%
17. Bond University: 60%
17. RMIT University: 60%
19. Edith Cowan University: 57%
20. University of Newcastle: 52%
20. University of Queensland: 52%
22, Charles Sturt University: 50%
22. University of Wollongong: 50%
23. Southern Cross University: 45%

National Average: 66.5%

Student Snapshot

Courier-Mail (CareerOne), 4 February 2006

NAME: Gabrielle Wheaton

Gabrielle Wheaton (right) with Jschool lecturer Desley Bartlett

Where are you studying? Jschool in Brisbane.

What are you studying? The one-year Diploma of Journalism course.

What prompted you to study in that area? I'm keen to be a journalist — I'd like to have a chance to make a difference.

Are you studying part time or full time? Full-time.

Do you work? I've been doing one day a week as a meter-reader with Energex.

How do you find the balance between your work and your studies?Ideal. We have classes four days a week and I work on the fifth day.

Have you or do you plan to do work experience? Yes I've already done internships in this course with The Courier-Mail, The Queensland Times and Quest Newspapers. It was a great experience and I was thrilled to get stories published in all newspapers.

What do you like about college life? I like the variety in the classroom, with students from all walks of life and age groups. They're a fascinating group. Plus the variety of course activities and guest speakers.

What challenges do you encounter? No social challenges. Some financial challenges, but every student gets that.

Do you have a favourite trainer/lecturer? Desley Bartlett is passionate about what she does and she's not afraid to try different techniques to get the best out of people.

What do you plan to do upon graduating? I've already been offered a job with the Queensland Times at Ipswich. I'll be starting later this month and I'm very much looking forward to being a full-time journalist.

Reporting a big win

Courier-Mail, 17 December 2005 [Study Guide 2006 advertising feature]

Journalism college Jschool is celebrating the win of 2005 graduate Angela Banbury as Most Outstanding Student in the Queensland Media Awards.

Jschool director Professor John Henningham said half this year's students had already secured jobs within weeks of completing the one-year diploma course.

"As a small vocational college focused on our students and on getting results, we're very pleased that one of this year's class won the top prize for journalism students in the state," Professor Henningham said.

Jschool students were recently awarded their diplomas at a ceremony in Brisbane.

Jschool's 2006 course begins in February at its Charlotte St headquarters in Brisbane's CBD. For further details see the college's website, www.jschool.com.au, email [email protected] or phone 3232 1575.

Journalism Education: Cultures of Journalism/Lifelong Learning series

Radio National, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 26 June 2004


There are a number of schools of thought on how to teach journalism. Some advocate an in-house training program like the one the British tabloid, News of the World, runs for new cadets, and others believe in a wider ranging multi-disciplinary approach in a university setting. We hear the case for different styles of teaching journalism. Guests include G. Stuart Adam from the Poynter Institute in the USA, and John Henningham from J-School.

Lucinda Duckett: I think what's important here is to realise that universities and newspapers are trying to do different things, and we are not in the business of criticising universities for the job that they do — because they do a very good job — but they also do a very different job from us. And I think that it's dangerous to confuse the duty of a university, which is to encourage thought, academic rigour — and the duty of newspapers, which is to produce good productive journalists. And those two things don't necessarily come together in a journalism course.

Donna McLachlan: Lucinda Duckett is the Editorial Development Manager for News Ltd. Hello, and welcome to Cultures of Journalism. This week we're having a look at journalism education. There are so many different ways of learning how to be a journalist. Perhaps you learn on the job or you might learn as a Distance Education student. Or you might go to a university. So today we're going to focus on some of the differences in approach to journalism education.

Lucinda Duckett: What we see is that many journalism degrees are very theoretical, do have much academic rigour and critical thought which probably belongs in a degree. But the mistake is to think that that will produce a work-ready journalist, because the two things are completely different. One is work training, I suppose, and the other is academic study. They're two completely different things. And I think the universities may have lost their way a little in their direction. Are they trying to offer trade courses or degrees? The two things are very different.

Wendy Bacon: Well I think it's about both things. first of all, our graduates have to be more than work ready.

Donna McLachlan: Associate Professor Wendy Bacon, from the University of Technology, Sydney, is also a journalist.

Wendy Bacon: At the moment we have final year students doing interviews at the various media outlets, and even to have a chance of getting a job, you need to have a very strong portfolio — sometimes across more than one type of media — and it needs to be of a professional standard. So right from day one in our course, our students are turning out stories, many of them also do subediting courses to improve their writing; they do radio, they're actually broadcasting with breakfast shows on community radio stations — so we put a huge emphasis on being work-ready. But as well as that, in a university you can't really pretend to have a journalism course unless you also study what journalism is about, what is its role in society, what is the media about — and also prepare your graduates to go out and be in a workplace where, if they are to put into practice their highest ideals in terms of professional practice and ethical practice, they need to understand the environment in which they work in order to maximise their opportunities to produce a high quality of journalism.

Donna McLachlan: And at the privately run JSchool, founder and director, John Henningham also believes you need to think more broadly about the media as well as the practical skills of journalism.

John Henningham: That is important. And what I've done in my course is I've boiled the curriculum down to one year, whereas university courses are generally three years, sometimes longer. And some people say, oh, you can't teach all that you need to know in one year. Well, you can't teach it in three years, or in a lifetime, really, and most of what journalists will need to know and will learn will be on the job after they've finished their studies. Some think that I concentrate entirely on the skills of writing and newsgathering, but you can't really run a journalism course without looking at that context — the areas of knowledge that journalists need to know — and parts of this are to do with the media themselves, with the media's role in society, and other parts are to do with the broader map of understanding politics, economics, literature, history — of having a broad understanding that a well-educated person should have in any field, really.

Donna McLachlan: How do you ingrain that in a short course?

John Henningham: Well, my approach is to do it in a hands-on way. The aim is to develop skills in writing and in recognising news. And when teaching the context I continue with these methods, so when we're looking at politics or economics, if I have a guest lecturer, for example, the students write a story about what they've said, or they write a feature story on the topic. And when we're studying politics we go to Parliament House. We spend a week in the Queensland Parliament House. They attend seminars there, they meet members of the press gallery, they meet members of parliament and ministers and shadow ministers. And so they develop an understanding of politics through being in a political parliamentary context and meeting the movers and shakers and seeing what's going on. And at the same time, learning how journalists report on politics by talking to journalists about how they do it and making their own attempts at writing stories about what happens in Parliament House. So they have a hands-on approach where they're learning often without realising they're learning. They're learning just by being there and talking to people and observing proceedings.

Wendy Bacon: People talk about journalism education, but what I like to think about is journalism in a university as the starting point. A few years ago I wrote an article called 'What is a Journalist in a University?', because to me, that was a very big challenge when I went from the media into the university. What happened to my journalism? And I think really, journalism in the university has got to be about three things. It's got to be about being a journalist — and that means continuing on to actually practice journalism at as good a level as you can. Now that doesn't mean you can do it all the time, but if we move away from that as journalists and educators, we're really not providing an example of high standard professional practice for our students. We also, amongst our staff, for example, have someone who's in very innovative radio. So we should be in innovation and good professional practice. As well as that, we need to research journalism. We need to be seriously engaged in scholarly activity. And then we teach journalism. And those three things really should work together in an environment that because of the pressure on journalism academics to get PhDs (which is a good thing to do) — far too many journalism education academics turn away from journalism into scholars and then rely on people they're hiring out of the industry on a part-time basis, which can be good but you've got to have people on staff as well — they rely on them to actually deliver what effectively very often becomes training.

What News Ltd is about with their online courses — and some private universities too — they're on about really what is a form of journalism training. It's not really about a journalism education, which must include thinking about journalism as much as doing journalism. And you're not going to do journalism very well unless you think about it.

Donna McLachlan: Wendy Bacon is an Associate Professor of Writing, Journalism and Social Enquiry at UTS. One of the key thinkers and writers in the area of journalism education is G. Stuart Adam, a journalist who crossed over into journalism education. He helped to establish the Carleton School of Journalism in Ottawa, Canada, in 1973. And Professor Adam is now at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in Florida.

You wrote a piece for, I think, The Columbia News, about a task force that was set up to look at the future of journalism education. And I was really interested in the idea that it shouldn't be an 'either-or' situation, you know, like trading off the trade and the craft of journalism for intellectual rigour and the ability to be critical, and I wondered if you could just talk to that kind of idea in terms of the future of journalism education.

Stuart Adam: Well, I think in one respect, very straightforward. It takes the classical idea of a liberal education and understands it as an education for public life. And then it tries to build, as it were, a curricular model that forges a relationship between the two things. And as you indicated in your question, it constitutes a remedy, I think, to a problem that has vexed journalism education and has been a continuous subject of discussion amongst journalism educators. There's been this estrangement between the professors of professional practices and the professors of academic research. And my model, in a nutshell, just says that the classical disciplines of what I would call political science, economics and law, the cognate disciplines, the civic disciplines, married up to a kind of literary education. And forged in the context of a vision of how you form journalists it will add up to something that is stronger, more interesting, more powerfully educating, and bring the disciplines of the university into contact with journalism students and professors of professional practices into contact with the discipline.

Donna McLachlan: Professor Stuart Adam. And in his model for journalism education, understanding context, be it political, scientific or social, is crucial.

Stuart Adam: The way I break it out is that I think of something called 'the editor's lexicon', or the writer's lexicon. And a portion of it has to do with the language of craft which reflects the experience of craft and the experience of making and knowing and judging journalistic work. So that's one piece of the educational process. the second piece has to do with tying the mind critically to the content and meaning of the world's events and the shape of the world. And in a sense you can think of journalism as an application of the forms of understanding that are born in, as it were, non-journalism subjects (to take a conventional example, like political science, or any part of the civic disciplines) if you require people to come to terms with those concepts, even with statistics, so that they're numerate. In due course this turns up as an incorporated part of their understanding. And so context, then, is not something that is separated from the act of reporting.

Donna McLachlan: And I think what you're describing there is as students gain knowledge and intellectual ability — and this is again a quote from your article — that they 'learn to think like a journalist.' Is that what you're getting at?

Stuart Adam: Yes. And I think one of the things that we've always struggled with in journalism education is that there's not a natural understanding, in the minds of academics, of news. News is the thing that, as journalists, we own — and the understanding. And so what we're doing is in a sense quite unique in the university. We're taking something that is born in the practice of journalism — namely the idea of news judgment. And then forging a relationship between it and the forms of understanding that languish in the academic disciplines. But the academic disciplines themselves aren't going to, as it were, tutor an understanding of news — or breed the journalist. That's something that we have to do.

Donna McLachlan: One of the great aspects of the in-house training program at News Ltd is the on-going training available to working journalists.

Lucinda Duckett: We have a number levels for training. The most notable one is an online training school which is national, which all our journalists have access to and which is exclusive to them. At the moment, at any one time, we have about 200 people enrolled in courses in our online program. Obviously we have many hundreds of graduates. We have a number of courses ranging from subediting to law reporting, court reporting — and there are other courses under development. Journalists can log in to those courses at any time, to suit their deadlines. Aside from that we have on-the-spot training at various sites, particularly the bigger ones in major cities. And we have people coming in for courses every now and again as well. So there's a sort of range of courses being delivered on site by departments at various of our newspapers, but also nationally through the online program.

Donna McLachlan: Lucinda Duckett points out that it's the editors of newspapers who choose the journalism cadets. But what has she observed about the qualities they may bring to their new job?

Lucinda Duckett: The majority of our intake these days have a degree but we don't insist on it, and we actually like to see some people coming in who do not have a degree. They have a certain freshness that we don't see always in people who are graduates. We also like to see people who come in with a variety of degrees — we're not just looking for people with journalism degrees. We're looking for economics, for medicine, for law, for all kinds of things that reflect the diversity of the things that we report and write about in our papers. If anything, I would say that we are beginning to become slightly disillusioned with people who have journalism degrees, and to focus ourselves a little bit more on people who don't.

Donna McLachlan: So tell me more about that disillusionment — what is it that is being presented in the young cadets who have journalism degrees that isn't matching what you need, or what your editors obviously need for particular newspapers?

Lucinda Duckett: The most striking would be the amount of theorising on journalism that they have done. To give an example, we have just gone through the process at our Melbourne newspaper group (The Herald and Weekly Times) of selecting cadets. We had 130 applications from people who sat the exam. And it was very noticeable, there was one question which was, 'under what circumstances do you think it would be acceptable to refuse an assignment?' And people who had done journalism degrees or journalism courses were able to answer that question very fully, with large numbers of answers about the circumstances in which they would not cover a story. The people who had not done a journalism degree cited very few reasons that tended to be around, I wouldn't do a story if it broke the law, I wouldn't cover a story if it threatened my personal safety. And that's what we're looking for. It appears to us that the theorising that's going ahead in the university journalism courses is actually paralysing people's ability to cover news. It's paralysing action. They're thinking of more reasons to keep things out of the paper than to put things in. And what we're looking for is people who are passionate to expose things, cover them, tell the truth, get it out and write about it.

Donna McLachlan: [Wendy Bacon], do you think there is an overemphasis on theory in journalism degrees?

Wendy Bacon: Not at all. I think it would be a disgrace if you thought that you could just study journalism any more than you could study medicine, law or engineering in a university and not actually think about what it is you're going to do and what role that profession plays in a society. And the whole idea that you can think too much about it, I find quite abhorrent. Now what I find also really quite interesting is that we had at UTS presenting our awards Chris Mitchell who is editor-in-chief of The Australian, and he began his speech, actually, by saying, look, 'some of our best young journalists on The Australian are recent graduates of your course'. I would say, though, the idea — I can understand from a company perspective how someone might say they want to turn out compliant journalists who don't question when they're asked to do a particular story. But that's not in the interests of the public, and we're educating to be able to produce journalists who can perform their role in a democracy. And it is not in the interests of democracy for us to produce students who will go into newsrooms and ask no questions. Because if you can't ask any questions of the editor and the person who's asking you and telling you what to do, you won't be able to ask any questions of the powerful either and you'll become a generally compliant being.

Now that said, you do need to — and we always emphasise; to students a newsroom is a complex place — you need to learn how to work in that environment, but unless you understand where news agendas come from, which is part of what we would look at in our theory subjects, you understand really what news is and its relationship to audience — you're not going to operate in that environment effectively, you're just going to become a fairly compliant person who turns out very often what is basically PR. And that is the other feature of our courses, is that we are one of the universities in Australia to have been able to resist a pressure within the universities to merge at least part of the courses with public relations — or what we call at UTS 'public communication'. At UTS we keep those two things very distinct, and I think that's again in the interests of the public that we make a strong distinction.

Donna McLachlan: Wendy Bacon is Associate Professor of Writing, Journalism and Social Enquiry at the University of Technology, Sydney. And on this question of democracy, Professor Stuart Adam from the Poynter Institute. I'm interested in that kind of feedback loop, I guess — we're talking here about the language of reporting and how that's been informed by the growth in journalism education and understanding that. But I'm interested in the impact of public debate on journalism and then how the language of journalism feeds back into public debate. How, in fact, journalism helps to form social policy.

Stuart Adam: Well, that's a very complex question, and the answer, I hope, will not sound too glib. But the most fundamental thing I think we do arises out of the creation, as it were, of public consciousness and understanding — not so much the process, I mean obviously there's an impact on public policy, but I'm very much a fan of George Orwell's Politics and the English Language. And it's really about the relationship between the quality of language and the ways in which we express ourselves, and the degree to which we're clear. I'd be very interested in the relationship between that and the quality of politics. And so there's a basic assumption that occurs before in a sense the activist understandings of journalism and having an impact on reform, and so on, which has to do with the clarification of understanding, the creation of a world of understanding which people inhabit, and have a map of the world they occupy. And I think it's enormously challenging to train people who can translate complex understandings and bring them forth into the public domain, so there is a — however large or small — a public that understands and can engage political questions in a meaningful way. I'm really talking about the fundamental architecture of democracy, how you stitch this together and make it work. Well, there have to be people, to put it in kind of an Orwell fashion, who write and think clearly and don't face the political system by burying the world in cliches or abstractions or fancy ways of saying things that can be restated and understood.

Donna McLachlan: Someone who's come at the idea of journalism education from a slightly different perspective is Michael Schudson, with a background in researching the history and sociology of the American news media. What does he think is essential for teaching journalism?

Michael Schudson: I'd have two thoughts about that. The first thing I'd say in the education of young journalists is they should read newspapers. I'm almost embarrassed to say that I've taught a course for 20 years here on the sociology of the American news media, and last year for the first time ever I required students to read The New York Times every day. And so many of those students don't follow news very much at all. And if they do it's rarely print media. And I can't tell you how many 'thank you's I got from students who said their eyes were opened. They had no idea there was so much good, complex, apparently fair-minded reporting out there. And this from just one newspaper that landed on their doorsteps every day. It was a major task for them to get through it, and I actually asked them to time themselves, how long it took them to read just the front page of the newspaper. Just the front page and the continuation of those front page stories. And that was about a 45-minute activity for most of the students every day. When you think about that, that's an enormous amount of time if someone is really to try to follow the news that way. But few of us read the news with that kind of care unless we're professional journalists already. So that would be the first thing I'd say, is read the newspaper, and ideally read more than one. The second thing I'd say is do some studies besides journalism. Editors I've talked to, at least at better publications, are really looking for someone with curiosity, with some broad base of general knowledge - journalists are thrown into all kinds of things in which they have to be very quick studies. If they have some broad base in the wide variety of humanities, social sciences and sciences, they'll do better. That's a tall order, but that would be the other thing I'd recommend.

Donna McLachlan: Professor Michael Schudson from the University of California, San Diego. But for all the thought that's gone into understanding how to teach journalism in universities, a degree isn't always desirable for an employer such as News Ltd.

Lucinda Duckett: some of our best journalists have no degree at all, and most of our group editors in the country do not have a degree. A degree is not a requirement to be a good journalist. What we need from a journalist is somebody who can find stories rather than wait for them to be given to them. While the critical thought and the academic rigour at universities is valuable, does it really teach you how to get somebody to talk when they've just been bereaved? Is that a skill that the universities are teaching? Are they teaching people how to write at great speed? They may be teaching people to write to a point, although I have to say one of the biggest elements of our reporting course is called News English, and it's about the absolute basics of grammar and spelling and writing, and we're seeing that that has not been taught properly in universities — and I think probably goes further back — has not been taught properly in schools. So I think much too much emphasis is given by people who look outside-in to newspapers on the writing element of it. We need good, sound, basic writers, people who can communicate at a simple level. But beyond that, we need people who can really sniff out stories, who can go beyond and find out what's really going on. No university has a monopoly on the people who have those skills.

Donna McLachlan: Lucinda Duckett is the National Editorial Development Manager at News Ltd. On Cultures of Journalism today we've been looking at journalism education. But I'd like to end on a note about ongoing training for journalists. Lance Polu is President of PINA, the Pacific Islands News Association.

Lance Polu: Our professional development in terms of training and looking at raising standards targets the whole region, so whether they are journalists or photographers or media practitioners who are working for a newspaper or media outlet that is foreign owned or owned by somebody outside the Pacific region, it doesn't stop what we are doing in terms of training and upskilling for everyone who is working in the media in the Pacific.

Donna McLachlan: How important is it for their identity that there is a news service that's representing their own stories?

Lance Polu: It is very important for that identity to be kept. And I think it's an area that in the training and the programs that PINA has been running in the past, it has been looking at this particular issue. So that the training of journalists who are based in the Pacific countries to write their own stories and interpret what's happening on the ground for not only for the community newspapers or radio stations or television stations, but they can also write these stories for a wider or global market.

Donna McLachlan: Lance Polu, president of the Pacific Island News Association. I hope you can join me next week for a vibrant and provocative discussion about the future of journalism, with Chris Masters, Andrew Bolt and Barbie Zelizer in the hot seats. My thanks to Bruce Jacobson for technical production and I'll talk to you same time next week.


G. Stuart Adam

Stuart Adam is the Journalism Scholarship Fellow at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, Florida and Professor of Journalism at Carleton University, Ottawa

[email protected]

Wendy Bacon

Associate Professor of Writing, Journalism and Social Enquiry, University of Technology, Sydney.

Lucinda Duckett

National Editorial Development Manager, News Limited.

John Henningham

Founder and Director of J-school, an independent school of journalism in Brisbane, Queensland.

[email protected]

Michael Schudson

Professor of Communication and Adjunct Professor of Sociology at the University of Califronia, San Diego.

[email protected]

Source: Journalism education (ABC Radio National)

Honour for reporter

The Independent, 11 December 2003

One of Australia's most successful investigative reporters, Bob Bottom, has been awarded an honorary doctorate for his contribution to journalism and the exposure of corruption.

Mr Bottom received the award last week at a graduation ceremony for students of Brisbane-based journalism college Jschool.

Director of Jschool Professor John Henningham conferred the school's first honorary Doctor of Journalism degree on Mr Bottom.

Professor Henningham said the award recognised Mr Bottom's achievements over more than 40 years, particularly his investigations into organised crime and corruption in Australia. He said Mr Bottom's reporting had been responsible for the establishment of 18 Royal Commissions or other forms of official inquiry into crime and corruption.

Queensland-based Mr Bottom said he was honoured by the recognition.

He said he had never sought awards as as he considered journalism to be a public service.

As guest speaker at the graduation ceremony Mr Bottom delivered a spirited defence of the role played by community-based newspapers such as The Independent.

He said community newspapers played a vital role in the Australian media.

"You should be just as proud if you get a front-page story in The Independent as you would be if you got one in The Sydney Morning Herald," Mr Bottom said.

Mr Bottom himself publishes a successful newspaper at Bribie Island and has previously owned and operated several other community newspapers.

This year's Jschool graduates have written a number of stories for The Independent as part of their course work.

Bob Bottom honoured by journalism school

Australian Associated Press, 4 December 2003

Investigative journalist Bob Bottom has been honoured with an honorary doctorate by a Queensland journalism college.

Director of Brisbane's Jschool Professor John Henningham today conferred the school's first honorary Doctor of Journalism degree on Mr Bottom at a graduation ceremony in Brisbane.

The award recognised Mr Bottom's achievements in journalism over more than 40 years, particularly his investigations into organised crime and corruption in Australia.

Queensland-based Mr Bottom said he was honoured by the recognition and said he had never sought awards as as he considered journalism to be a public service.

Journalists tracking diploma

Courier-Mail, 6 December 2003

Queensland's fast track diploma to a career in journalism is being increasingly welcomed by a wide range of employers.

The new eight-month diploma offered by Jschool: Journalism Education & Training has been approved by an industry-based accreditation advisory committee, while editors of daily and weekly newspapers have given jobs to graduates and internships to students.

"The media industry likes the practical and focused course we offer," says director of Jschool, Professor John Henningham.

"Last year's graduates were snapped up by local and interstate newspapers."

Extract from - Journalism education: does it provide the skills?

Radio National, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 20 November 2003

Mick O'Regan:

Right now, thousands of Year 12 students are pondering what to do next year. Among those with aspirations to attend university are many who will choose to study journalism. So this week on the program we're interested in how well served those students are likely to be by the range of tertiary journalism courses.

One recurring theme in the debate over the adequacy of journalism education is whether tertiary graduates have the skills necessary to find work with the limited number of employers.


I began our discussion by asking John Henningham about his recently-published criticisms of journalism education, which focused on the lack of industry involvement. And what he had learned from speaking with senior people in the media, such as newspaper editors.

John Henningham: Well many of them I find are astonished that after three years of a journalism education, recruits still don't, in many cases, have the level of practical skills to be able to produce copy quickly and to have quick turnaround of copy. You know, quite a few editors said Well the students know the theory of news writing, but not the practice of it. And this isn't universally the case, those who work on course newspapers often do have that experience in writing stories, but many editors say that journalism students spend too much time on feature writing, or areas of journalism that aren't all that useful to them when they're employed as cadets on provincial daily newspapers for example, where they want to see them produce a lot of stories very quickly.

That's one type of area. They mentioned shorthand, the fact that this is a necessary skill for newspapers still today, in our day, and they feel that this is something that ought to be taught in a journalism course, but most universities thumb their nose at that as seeing it's too technical and too practical in a sense, to be inflicted upon students. And yet if they don't have a shorthand speed, they have to learn that while they're cadets, and so this is a problem for them.

Mick O'Regan: And one of the other points you made in an article that was published in the News Limited Media Supplement some weeks ago, was that the whole nature of I suppose the humanities model, university model, where students have in a particular subject, they might have two contact hours in a lecture each week, followed up by a contact hour in a tutorial. Now tutorials these days can be upwards of 25 people as opposed to, say, 10 or 12 people from a generation ago. Just briefly, why is that model inadequate in your opinion.

John Henningham: Well clearly, it's not at all suitable for teaching skills in journalism, to teach reporting and writing skills, because the students just don't get enough practice, they don't get enough attention from their teachers. And so to be one of 400 students in a large lecture for two hours, and then have a 50-minute tutorial where you're one of 30 students, it's difficult to any individual student to even be noticed. And the problem is in the turnaround of stories that they write, the marking of their stories, it's woefully inadequate, and in many cases students might be writing only about five stories in a whole semester.

And their first day in journalism, they'll have to write that many stories on that day. And so of course they can't develop the skills, they can't learn from their mistakes with that kind of imbalance between teachers and students. It's really quite appalling, and I contrast this with the funding that actually is provided by the Federal government, by the students themselves through their HECS payments, and the very small proportion that is actually spent on providing them with the education.

For complete program see: Journalism education (ABC Radio National)

Journalism sold short in media courses

The Australian (Media section), 23 October 2003

TERTIARY TROUBLES: Universities are letting journalism students and their potential industry down, writes John Henningham

JOURNALISM has been taught on and off at Australian and New Zealand universities for more than 80 years. One would think that by now they'd be getting it right, but I've concluded that they're getting it more wrong than right -- certainly in Australia.

For this I blame the industry almost as much as the universities -- for they have relinquished their earlier claims on a supervisory role in course development.

The earliest courses sprang from industry or professional representations, whereby small courses were established with a view of providing a tertiary-educated workforce in journalism. Partnerships forged by a few enlightened people at senior levels in journalism and in academia resulted in diploma courses that provided professional and contextual education to small groups of vocationally oriented students.

For various reasons the courses provided only a minute stream of graduates to the profession, and most programs were abandoned between the wars. In-house cadetships became the norm.

In Australia, tertiary education on a large scale had its origins in the 1970s with the development of colleges of advanced education, which sought to develop vocational streams of study.

The colleges ultimately became universities, continuing their involvement in journalism education.

Although many courses were established with industry approval and with some degree of industry control or input, the self-accrediting nature of Australian universities has seen a distancing of modern tertiary institutions from the news media industry.

The industry has by default allowed tertiary journalism courses to proliferate in number and in the enrolment of students, as well as in the development of teaching programs often far removed from industry needs and expectations.

In parallel with the development of vocational journalism education in the past generation has been the growth of media studies as a university discipline. University administrators have found it convenient to marry these two strands because of a superficial resemblance, with often disastrous results for journalism.

An additional strand is that of vocational education in other forms of communication, such as marketing and public relations (which belong in business schools but are often yoked with journalism, again to its disadvantage).

Perhaps the biggest problem for courses in journalism is the widespread adoption of the bachelor of arts model in providing a template for course development.

This currently involves a teaching and learning environment of only two hours of lectures and one hour of tutorials a week per subject. (This model suits traditional arts disciplines, which involve extended essay writing and lots of reflective reading between classes.) Students typically enrol in four subjects each semester, resulting in only 12 hours of teaching a week, of which only three are for a journalism subject.

Of those three, two are spent in large lecture groups, while one is a small group tutorial. Tutorial groups were once 10 to 12 in number: they are now more commonly 25 or 30 in the larger courses. Hence, students' involvement in practical journalism education is limited to once-a-week 50-minute participation in a crowded tutorial class. And there may be only 12 such classes a semester. Little practical output is derived from such a teaching model.

In many courses first year students write only half a dozen assessable stories per semester.

They perhaps write as many stories in a year as a cadet journalist writes in a couple of days.

The situation will often improve in later years as numbers thin out, but the overwhelming pressure of numbers within public universities Australia-wide results in a vocational education that is often sub-standard.

The most recent national surveys show that only 63 per cent of journalism and communication students express satisfaction with their courses. The same course experience questionnaire shows that only 48 per cent give high ratings to the quality of teaching.

Drop-out rates from university courses are 40 per cent or more, and of course there is mass absenteeism during the teaching year.

The pressure of numbers results in insufficient or zero one-to-one teaching, inadequate levels of feedback and below-standard levels of practical work in journalism.

While universities blame federal funding policies for the situation, an examination of how universities disperse the funds they are provided with tells an interesting story.

For a humanities or social sciences degree, including journalism, public universities quote a "full fee" of around $11,000 a year. This is the fee overseas students are charged, and it represents the funding level per head that universities receive from government and from students via the HECS or student loan system.

Obviously a portion of these funds must be deployed for central administrative purposes and costs, including the library.

But the proportion of funds passed on to departments for the key purpose of teaching students is scandalously low.

When I was head of a university department, I found that the bureaucracy paid only $2800 a year per full-time student. From this had to come all the costs of running a department, including wages for teaching, technical and administrative staff, plus the cost of computers, telephones, TV and radio equipment, etc. Per head it was perhaps half the figure provided to a primary school principal, and only a quarter of the so-called full fee.

The consequence of such a funding squeeze, in which journalism students are essentially subsidising students in other departments as well as the university's research activities, strategic initiatives and executive salaries, is the inflation in class sizes and daily worsening teacher-student ratios.

Some simple arithmetic will show that an income of less than $3000 per full-time student can only result in larger and fewer classes in order to make ends meet.

The funding allocation I experienced resulted in provision of only around $350 per student per subject. It's easy to see why enrolments of hundreds of students are necessary to cover basic costs, as well as continuing economies.

In many subjects tutorials have been abolished, and even lecture time reduced. One major course I know of has been reduced to half an hour a week.

ALL these developments should be of concern to the industry, yet they now have no formal role in approving or even expressing an opinion on such matters.

When I set up my own course I contacted all the daily newspaper editors in Queensland and NSW to ask them their views on what should be in a vocational journalism course.

They were all happy to talk and to give me suggestions for subject areas I was able to incorporate in my curriculum. The interesting thing was how many of them expressed surprise and delight at being asked.

For most other vocational areas at university, the profession is able to exercise considerable guidance on what is taught and how it is taught.

Senior members of the profession or industry have roles on faculty boards or advisory committees. Their approval is required before any significant changes can be made. This relationship flows from the registered status of most of these vocational areas.

Often advisory committees exist in the case of journalism, but my experience is that the university is interested in their input only if they say what the university wants to hear.

Queensland University's decision three years ago to merge journalism with communication studies, to strip it of its own governance and to introduce anti-journalism areas like public relations, was made in the face of objections from the department's industry advisers.

The process made a mockery of the whole existence of the advisory committee, and I understand it has not been reconvened in subsequent years.

Journalism has become a means of attracting students to universities: the attraction of journalism as a course of study is a major bonus for universities in their marketing campaigns. Students in their thousands embark on journalism courses each year, unaware that only a tiny proportion of them can ever hope for jobs as journalists.

The willingness to use journalism as a hook for students fascinated by news media is in contrast to an attitude prevailing in many tertiary institutions of contempt for journalism and the media. In academic board and faculty meetings there is probably no institution, aside from the federal government, that receives such a bagging as the media. Much of the condemnation is based on ignorance, selective reading and prejudice, and it was perhaps ever thus.

Meanwhile the emergence of media studies has provided a convenient academic home for most journalism courses, despite the fundamental differences between them.

Journalism teachers have found themselves occupying lower-level positions in departments dominated by media theorists with PhDs and limited life experience, whose teaching and research endeavours are often directed at vilifying the news media and the practice of journalism. Teachers are told their only hope of promotion or tenure is to embrace such academic paradigms, including the whacky and unproductive fantasies of cultural studies.

Students in such departments seeking a vocational education in journalism have to endure theoretical courses of study that bear little relation to the practice of journalism.

Research is a vital part of the academic enterprise. But while some university disciplines recognise non-academic output as equivalent to research -- eg: the creative work of musicians or architects -- newspaper articles are expressly forbidden as substituting research publications for journalists.

In other words, the very means by which journalism educators can maintain their professional profile and credibility -- by continuing to be journalists -- is closed to them as a means of formal recognition for purposes of promotion or tenure.

The irony in this is that, unlike many professions that are concerned with applying sets of learned rules to familiar situations, the prime work of journalists is research. It is what journalists do all the time.

The fundamental, ongoing research and analysis activity of journalists is denied recognition by our national research-granting structures. Journalism teachers are therefore neutralised as journalists. They are driven to re-invent themselves as academics -- and generally not very good ones.

The failure of universities to recognise the worth of journalists' professional output means absurd requirements are often specified in job advertisements.

People with a BA who may have edited a daily newspaper or been a political or foreign correspondent are ineligible for senior teaching positions, as opposed to journalists who left the industry at J1 level but have a PhD.

The dissatisfaction many in the industry feel with university approaches to journalism education is illustrated by the major media groups' recent establishment of in-house training schemes.

Both Fairfax and News Ltd have developed detailed journalism education courses designed to teach journalism from scratch. If universities were doing their job there would be no need for such courses, except at the level of familiarising recruits with house styles and procedures (as well as the important ongoing role of professional development).

This is not an argument for a journalism degree as the only useful means of entry to the profession. Employers value graduates of various backgrounds, including economics, political science and law.

But a strong structure of professional journalism education in Australia ought to have resulted in such graduates enrolling in postgraduate journalism programs, as they do in the US and in New Zealand.

Strong graduate schools are the appropriate environment for developing meaningful research in journalism, including informed evaluations of news media performance, readership studies and research methods which can help the news media industry and the profession of journalism.

At one stage I believed that such ivy league journalism schools were achievable in Australia. Unfortunately the wrong type of people have taken charge of key journalism schools -- while industry has averted its gaze. Industry has been inactive in requiring accreditation of journalism programs. It has acquiesced in the marriage of journalism and media studies (as well as journalism and such hostile occupations as PR).

None of these criticisms mean universities are not producing graduates who become excellent journalists. With huge enrolments of students, there will always be motivated and intelligent people who will master the basics and be attractive to employers. But this is too often in spite of rather than because of the education they are receiving.

Similarly there are many dedicated and hard-working journalism educators who are marking hundreds of assignments a week and preparing many more classes than their colleagues in other disciplines.

Any objective assessor of university education in journalism can only offer the following report: "Can do much better. Started off very keen but has lost direction. Not working nearly hard enough on the core areas. Distracted by other children in nearby classes.

"Also at times the victim of bullies in the headmaster's office. Parents could show more interest. Final grade: F."

Professor John Henningham is the director of JSchool, a private journalism college based in Brisbane. This article is edited from an address to PANPA 2003.

Victorians urged to go north to learn

The Age, 11 October 2003

A Queensland journalism professor is in Melbourne trying to persuade Victorians to study journalism in Brisbane.

John Henningham claims Jschool is an Australian first, a college totally focused on vocational journalism. It offers only one course — an eight-month diploma of journalism, which has been assessed and approved by a committee of editors from print and broadcast media.

"Professional journalism is at the centre, and we don't have to make compromises with academics who want to mix it up with communication theory or public relations," says Henningham, a former head of journalism at Queensland University and Australia's first professor of journalism.

He said most of his graduates had gone straight into journalism jobs, a result of the intensive small group teaching, field work, internships and industry contacts.

"I interviewed editors in Victoria, NSW and Queensland about what they expected in a journalism course, and built their suggestions into the curriculum. Most of the editors were dissatisfied with university journalism education," he said.

Henningham says Jschool is more suitable to the needs of postgrad students as it is vocationally-focused and doesn't waste students' time trying to replicate undergraduate courses with their heavy theory components.

"All our coursework is oriented to practical journalism outcomes," he said. "Students write stories, not essays."

But why should locals go to Queensland to study? "The Melbourne students who've already enrolled are very happy with the course," he said. "Brisbane is a pleasant and affordable city and a very good environment in which to learn journalism, and our location in the CBD is perfect — students walk to Parliament House, city hall and law courts to gather stories. They are expected to turn in news stories every day, and to build up portfolios of published articles."

And Henningham couldn't resist gloating that "Victorian students can also take comfort from the fact that we're just over the river from the Gabba, permanent home of the AFL trophy".

He will be meeting prospective students by appointment next Tuesday and Wednesday, at Taylor's College, Lonsdale St. Details are on his website: www.jschool.com.au or by phoning (07) 3232 1575.

Jobs come easily with diploma

Courier-Mail, 8 October 2003 [Postgraduate and MBA Options advertising feature]

Director of Queensland's private journalism college Jschool, Professor John Henningham, is delighted with the success of the new Diploma of Journalism course.

"Three out of four graduates from our first intake are working full-time as newspaper journalists in Queensland and NSW," he said.

" It's a higher success rate than any other journalism course."

"Newspaper editors like the strong practical focus of the diploma and its clear commitment to professional journalism."

"An industry committee of senior editors from all media sectors has examined the curriculum in detail and approved it for national accreditation."

Professor Henningham designed the course after extensive consultation with industry.

"Everything the students do is directed towards vocational outcomes," he said.

"In less than one year students get more hands-on experience in journalism than most students doing three-year degree courses -- they love the course."

The Diploma of Journalism is taught in Brisbane's CBD, giving students easy access to news sources such as courts, council and parliament.

Small-group teaching guarantees students constant feedback on their work and help with job placements.

The next course starts at the end of January 2004.

An open day will be held at Jschool at 119 Charlotte Street, Brisbane, on Monday, October 13 from 3 to 5pm.

For further inquiries, phone Jschool at 3232 1575, email [email protected] or visit www.jschool.com.au.

Now for some good news . . .

Courier-Mail, 14 December 2002 [Tertiary & career options advertising feature]

The first graduates of Jschool's innovative city-based journalism school received their Diploma of Journalism awards last week.

Parents, partners and friends joined leading journalists in celebrating the students' achievements, which included the hundreds of stories they have already had published in newspapers throughout Queensland and New South Wales. The diplomas were presented by ABC radio news chief David Anderson, who said the students had taken a major step in their career paths.

In a message to the graduates, Courier-Mail investigative journalist and Walkley winner Hedley Thomas urged them to be idealistic and to believe that they could change society for the better.

Student valedictorian Paul Lancaster praised the skills of the many journalists and teachers who contributed to the Jschool program.

He said it was a groundbreaking course where students could "learn the craft of journalism and learn it well."

Jschool's 2002 graduates are currently either working as interns or cadets with regional daily newspapers.

Director of Jschool, Professor John Henningham, said he was very pleased with the progress of the first intake of students.

"They've worked very hard and have radiated their enthusiasm and commitment in newsrooms across the state," he said.

"I've never known a group of students so happy to be learning and so keen to get their stories into print.

"It convinces me that we've got the right formula at Jschool, which is unique in Australia for its journalism-focused teaching method."

Prof Henningham said the students' stories had been published on front pages of daily newspapers between Cairns and Grafton.

"Between them, the students have had more than 300 stories published in newspapers this year," he said.

Jschool is now accepting applications for its 2003 diploma course, which begins at the end of January.

Further information at www.jschool.com.au or call (07) 3232 1575.

Extract from:

Theory gives way to workplace readiness

The Australian, 11 December 2002 [Higher Education Supplement, Uni2003]

'Can't write, can't spell and can't find a story": so goes the frequently quoted criticism of university journalism graduates by editors.

The editor, as any young reporter knows, is ignored at great peril and the message is filtering through to educators. As pressure mounts to provide work-ready graduates, journalism schools are responding with skills-based courses that claim to rival cadetship programs of the big media outlets of generations past.

One such college is the small, private Brisbane-based Jschool, brainchild of former University of Queensland journalism professor John Henningham.

Henningham left UQ a few years ago, disgruntled about what he says was a diminishing share of resources and a lack of respect for news-gathering skills.

Jschool has just produced its first four graduates. Between them the students had more than 300 stories published in regional and metropolitan papers throughout Queensland and northern NSW, all written as part of their coursework.

Jschool will take up to 12 students next year. Classes start in February and will conclude at the end of September to allow graduates time to find work before the summer holidays. The annual fee is about $10,000.

. . .

By Jim Buckell

Journalism school fosters skills

Courier-Mail, 7 December 2002 [Careers & Study Guide advertising feature]

Testament to the success of Brisbane's new city-based journalism college Jschool is the verdict of their first intake of students that it has been the best year of their lives.

The students, who graduated this week after completing the eight-month diploma, are currently being interviewed for job opportunities with newspapers in Queensland and interstate. Half the students already have job offers.

Director of Jschool, Professor John Henningham, said he was very pleased with the progress of the first intake of students.

"They've worked very hard and have radiated their enthusiasm and commitment in newsrooms across the state," he said.

Jschool is now accepting applications for its 2003 diploma course, which begins at the end of January.

For further information visit www.jschool.com.au or call (07) 3232 1575.

Graduates on write course

Sunday Mail, 3 November 2002 [Education & training for 2003 advertising feature]

The first intake of students at Brisbane's new city-based journalism college, Jschool, will graduate this month after completing the eight-month diploma.

Of the students currently being interviewed for opporrunities with Queensland and interstate newspapers, some have already had job offers.

Jschool director, Professor John Henningham, said he was extremely pleased with the progress of the first intake of students.

. . .

Extract from:

It's more than just a PR stunt

The Australian, Media section cover story, 22 August 2002

Old-style independent journalism is under threat from the spin sector, writes Martin Chulov

. . .

Early last year, the University of Queensland abandoned its straight journalism program in favour of a School of Journalism and Communication. The argument for doing so was that a repositioned school would give its graduates a much better opportunity of getting jobs. Evidence had emerged that newsrooms were looking for more than the basic news gathering and production skill sets offered by straight journalism courses � Fairfax, News Limited and the ABC have said they weren't satisfied merely with media degrees when they went recruiting. The new UQ course was to offer journalism as part of a platform for entry into the employment market.

But not everyone was sold.

"I was depicted as if I was swimming against the tide," says Professor John Henningham, who left UQ and set up his own straight journalism school, the J-School, in disgust. "Our industry advisers were of the view that we were better as we were, our students protested outside the academic board . . . but there was this push [for amalgamation]."

Henningham says that in the last year of his tenure at UQ, there was far less money flowing into journalism training than into other faculties, with the upshot being that his school was "hundreds of thousands of dollars" out of pocket.

If there is any such thing any more, Henningham is staunchly "old school" � someone who believes that in the past the strength of journalism stemmed from its independence. He claims journalists gain little from exposure to the ways of the opinion shapers � at least not early in their career. And, to the contrary, PR practitioners gain a lot.

"Part of the problem in having PR people in the program is that they are in a sense validated by being in the company of journalists," he says.

. . .

Mike Smith [former Age editor and issues management consultant] deals regularly with journalists of all types wanting access to his clients, but he claims that, over the past few years especially, a lack of core training and dedication to news gathering has led to a fall in the calibre of the younger crop.

"The training of journalists is not the same as it was in the past," he says. "About half the staff of a major paper is doing magazines and lifestyle stuff, which is part of journalism, but it's not the hard core. And hard-core journalism values are not necessarily being developed. It's very tempting for young journalists to be doing film reviews and TV quips and to get their picture and byline in the paper, but what they miss out on is the critical grounding that previous generations got doing the police beat, the courts and using their eyes and ears as well as telephone and email.

"It's been going on for 10 to 15 years, but getting more pronounced all the time."

On this score, Smith has a powerful industry supporter, News Limited chief executive John Hartigan, who made the candid admission earlier this month that journalism is not what it was.

"In days gone by, the most venerated journalists found their news among the people," said Hartigan in a speech about the future of newspapers. "They congregated in pubs, among the coppers and crims; they sniffed out their scoops in bars and public places, and they talked to people, face to face, living the truism � you don't find news hanging around the office.

"Today we find our reporters from tertiary-educated backgrounds, where so many seem to aspire to present A Current Affair � but know nothing of, and seem to resent, the years of experience and work it takes to get there.

"Today we are in danger of producing a generation of journalists who know people only over the telephone � and then, only hear the views of spin doctors, whether they be corporate or political."

Extensive consultation creates intense journo course

Panpa Bulletin, April 2002

A new year-long intense journalism course aims at creating journalism graduates who are more prepared for the demands of the media industry.

The Diploma of Journalism being offered by Jschool, a new privately run journalism college in Brisbane, was created on the advice of editors.

Jschool head and founder Professor John Henningham consulted 20 daily newspaper editors in Queensland and northern NSW on what they expected from journalism graduates.

Professor Henningham said the Jschool diploma consisted of internships, excursions, site visits, shorthand, writing skills and classes in law, politics, economics and humanities.

"The course is intensive, practical and focused on finding news media jobs for students." Professor Henningham said.

He said the course offered some introductory radio and television classes but the focus was on print.

He said that students would initially produce work to be published in a Web publication.

Students pay A$4950 per semester [slightly higher in 2003]. The course does not attract any government subsidies, and therefore HECS is not available. However the Jschool website claims this is still cheaper than a three year university degree.

Professor Henningham said Jschool took in five students this year, with plans to extend the number to 12 next year.

Entry to the course is not based on tertiary rankings, but applicants need to pass writing skills, general knowledge and news sense tests.

Professor Henningham was the former head of Journalism at the University of Queensland and the first Australian Professor of Journalism. He left the university after the department was amalgamated with public relations, social marketing and communication studies.

He said the advantage of the Jschool diploma was the variety offered in the course, which meant students found it more interesting. He said one of the criticisms university students had of their courses was the focus on theory.

Professor Henningham said Jschool's location in Brisbane meant that students were close to institutions such as parliament house and the courts.

"I suppose we are at a great advantage where we are in the city. University students live a life in isolation."

He said he wanted those in the course to consider themselves as journalism trainees rather than as students.

By Valerie Gigliotti

Panpa Bulletin is the official publication of the Pacific Area Newspaper Publishers Association, the peak newspaper industry body for Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.     www.panpa.org.au

Write focus for journo school

Sunday Mail, 27 January 2002 [Tertiary education advertising feature]

Students who want to be journalists can now take a one-year journalism diploma in Brisbane's central business district.

The course is offered by Jschool, a private college specialising in journalism education and training. Director of Jschool is leading Australian journalism educator John Henningham, former journalism head and foundation professor of journalism at Queensland University.

Henningham, former editor of Australian Journalism Review and Australian Studies in Journalism, said he sought input to the course from every daily newspaper editor in Queensland and from major national publishers, asking what skills they most wanted in journalism recruits.

"The course is intensive, practical and focused on finding news media jobs for students," Henningham said.

The course includes internships with newspapers, site visits and excursions as well as shorthand and writing skills development.

"Our CBD location in Charlotte Street gives students easy access to news-making institutions such as parliament, courts, business, government departments and the city council," Henningham said.

The Jschool journalism diploma also includes study of politics, economics, law and humanities to help develop broadly-educated journalists.

Extract from:

A matter of degree

Pure journalism:John Henningham left the University of Queensland to establish his own school.

Photographer: David Sproule

The Australian: Media Section, cover story, 24 January 2002

Australia's journalism schools are churning out graduates. But, asks Mark Day, do they have the skills editors need?

It's the perennial debate: which is more relevant to a career in journalism -- a piece of paper from one of the nation's burgeoning number of schools teaching journalism, media studies or communications, or a degree in life from the University of Hard Knocks?

But as another academic year draws closer the traditional view of many media managers that journalism can only be learnt by doing is giving way to an acceptance of the value of vocational training -- and a frustration that the country's journalism schools are falling short in their aim to prepare graduates for media careers.

. . .

"There's a schism within academia about what is the best preparation for journalism," says Cratis Hippocrates, who has been on both sides of the fence, as a former journalist and Queensland University of Technology head of journalism. He is now editorial training manager for the Fairfax group.

"There is a need to teach more about news writing and news values," he says. "Unfortunately, a lot of media theorists have developed their own language and it's hard to understand what they're talking about.

"It's ironic they're talking communications theories and they can't communicate it. It's very esoteric, like they're talking to themselves."

Tony Rees, senior lecturer in journalism at Curtin University in Perth, says some communications theorists have developed "a kind of postmodern mumbo jumbo which argues that reality is only that to those who take part in it.

. . .

Australia's first professor of journalism, John Henningham, who spent 25 years in the University of Queensland's journalism faculty, was so incensed by moves to broaden his course into a communications degree that he resigned last year to establish a private journalism college, the Jschool, in Brisbane.

He now offers a one-year full-time diploma course in "pure" journalism.

"I've spent a lot of time talking to editors to find out what they want," Henningham says. "If you know the needs of the industry and have experience in journalism education, you can put together pretty good courses centred on what students need to know about the political and economic systems; an introduction to relevant humanities, reading history and literature; things like Shakespeare to get that depth of language.

I don't want them studying and writing essays. I want them to write stories, because nothing better prepares them for a career."

This is especially so, Henningham say, in rural areas. He says regional newspaper editors want graduates who can hit the ground running and do anything, quickly.


John Henningham's address to the University of Queensland Academic Board

The aftermath: University of Queensland students' comments on the journalism course five years after the merger with communications.

Classic articles:   Why journalism doesn't belong in communication/PR schools

The closing of the journalistic mind   (Columbia Journalism Review)

Where journalism education went wrong   (Seigenthaler Conference)