Fackson Banda

Through UNESCO, 195 Member States set and promote press freedom standards appropriate to free, independent and pluralistic media – online and offline. A key part of that mandate consists in building the capacities of such media institutions, especially in a fast changing technological context and new challenges to freedom of expression. The development of the UNESCO Model Curricula for Journalism Education is thus an attempt by UNESCO to set standards based on “good practice” internationally, as a resource for stakeholders around the world to draw from in order to improve the quality of journalism education in their respective countries. The effort derives from a conviction that professional journalistic standards are essential to a media system that can foster democracy, dialogue and development. By improving the quality of journalism education, UNESCO believes that both journalism educators and students stand a better chance of influencing journalistic production at the news-institutional level. In turn, newsrooms that are staffed by well-trained and critically-minded journalists are likely to positively influence the processes of democracy and development in their societies, especially in the developing world. A quality journalism education is not only a guarantor of democracy anddevelopment, but also of press freedom  itself.

Against this background, this report provides a recap of the key points made at two separate intellectual engagements with the UNESCO Model Curriculum for Journalism Education:

  • Preconference workshop on August 8, 2012 in Chicago at the 2012 Convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) under the theme “Teaching Journalism in Developing Countries and Emerging Democracies: The Case of UNESCO’s Model Curricula”;
  • UNESCO special panel on “Universalizing journalism education? An interrogation of UNESCO’s Evolving contribution to the field” held September 27, 2012 in Istanbul alongside the 4th European Communication Conference of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA).

The Model Curricula were launched in 2007 at the first World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC) convened in Singapore. By the end of 2012, they had been adapted by at least 70 journalism schools in 60 countries in diverse linguistic, social and cultural contexts.

At the first event in Chicago, six scholars debated the impact of the Curricula at a workshop attended by about 40 people. Panelists included Sundeep Muppidi (Hartford University and former Secretary-General of AMIC), Ibrahim Seaga Shaw (Northumbria University, England), Sonia Virginia Moreira (Universidadedo Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Gordon Stuart Adam (formerly with Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada), Rosental Calmon Alves (University of Texas at Austin and former president of ORBICOM – a global network of UNESCO Chairs in Communication) and Peter Laufer (University of Oregon). The workshop was led by Fackson Banda of the Division for Freedom of Expression and Media Development at UNESCO and coordinated by Amy Schmitz Weiss, assistant professor of journalism at San Diego State University.

The Istanbul discussion, with about 20 participants in attendance, was chaired by Fackson Banda (UNESCO), and addressed by eight panelists, who included Dr. Incilay Cangöz (Anadolu University, Turkey), Prof. Pilar Carrera (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid), Dr. Steffen Burkhardt (University of Hamburg), Dr. Kim Sawchuk (Concordia University), Prof Kaarle Nordenstreng (University of Tampere), Prof. Cees Hamelink (University of Amsterdam), Ms. Saltanat Kazhimuratova (Almaty College of Social Sciences) and Prof. Daya K. Thussu (University of Westminster).

This report includes the presentations of the panelists mentioned above as well as the key conclusions and  recommendations arising from the general discussion that followed the presentations.

What follows now is an introductory overview of those presentations and the issues they raise for the future of journalism education, including specific actions that UNESCO is taking in light of the recommendations emerging from these and other discussions.

Taken together, the presentations in this Report offer a compelling analytical framework for envisioning journalism education in the future. Key ingredients in this framework include: (i) the academic culture of journalism education globally; (ii) the contextual applications of the Model Curricula and their implications for the future; and (iii) a search for new specialized syllabi to incorporate emergingissues.

Watch out for the concluding part from Prof. Ibrahim Shaw