Journalism education more fundamental than ever in today’s context

As journalism undergoes deep changes due to technological innovation and economic uncertainty worldwide, so does journalism education. In an age of near ubiquitous use of social media and the abuse that often arises from it, journalism educators need to assert the fundamentals of journalism, which include protecting sources of news, maintaining the quality of information disseminated, as well as reinforcing the rigour of journalism training programmes.

This plea was made by UNESCO’s Deputy Director-General, Getachew Engida, when he welcomed French and other European journalism educators, professionals and students to the 5th edition of the conférence nationale des métiers du journalisme (CNMJ) which opened today at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.

He told the over 233 participants that, for UNESCO, journalism schools have a special responsibility in an environment where freedom of expression and the safety of journalists were constantly undermined.

In this regard, he argued, journalism education was pivotal to the ongoing global consultations for a post-2015 development agenda that includes freedom of expression as a basis for journalistic innovation.

He added: “It is in this spirit that, last year, UNESCO launched 10 new specialised journalism modules, presented in the Model Curricula for Journalism Education: A Compendium of New Syllabi.

He reminded the participants of UNESCO’s Global Initiative for Excellence in Journalism Education as a useful framework for them to collaborate with the Organisation in realising the initiative’s aim of globally shared excellence in practising, teaching and researching journalism.

Engida also informed the gathering that UNESCO had just published its report on world trends in freedom of expression and media development, adding that the Organisation was currently undertaking a comprehensive global study on Internet-related issues, whose results would be shared next March.

He invited the conference to actively contribute to the debates sparked by the trends report and the internet study.

Among other key speakers scheduled to address the conference were Fleur Pellerin (France’s minister of culture and communication), Jean-Marie Charon (CNMJ president), Pascal Guénée (IPJ-Paris Dauphine), Christina Agren (SVT, TV suédoise), Marco Garcia Rey (Université de Madrid), and Susan Fearn (BBC Academy).

The CNMJ is a forum for public dialogue and debate among leading journalism educators and professionals. Conceived in 2010, it includes 14 industry-recognised French journalism schools, catering for trainers, professional associations, public authorities, researchers and other qualified stakeholders.

This 5th edition of the conference is unique in its greater inclusion of other European journalism educators and professionals, making it a pan-European event.