Cullen, T., Tanner, S. J.., O’Donnell, M. and Green, K. 2014, ‘Industry needs and tertiary journalism education: Views from news editors’, Transformative, innovative and engaging. Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Teaching Learning Forum, University of Western Australia, Australia, pp. 1-11.

Abstract: This research paper discusses the findings from a 2012 Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) sponsored project that canvassed the views of news editors around Australia about the “job readiness” of tertiary educated journalism graduates. The focus of this paper is limited to responses from news editors in Western Australia. Data was collected via face to face interviews with eleven news editors in Perth, Western Australia. The editors work in print, online, broadcast and television and all of them employ journalism graduates. The aim was to assess whether the five university based journalism programs in Perth provide graduates with the skillset prospective employers were seeking. Editors are uniquely placed as they employ journalism graduates as interns, or as full time employees when they complete their studies, and they know which attributes and skills will help journalism graduates to succeed. The editors, for the most part, agreed that there was a key role for universities in Perth to provide both an educational background and skills based training for people contemplating a career in journalism and early career journalists. There was, however, some disagreement as to what the ideal university based journalism program should consist of.

O’Donnell, Marcus, Tanner, Stephen, Green, Kerry, Cullen, Trevor, 2013, “Graduate qualities and journalism curriculum renewal: balancing tertiary expectations and industry needs in a changing environment,” International Association of Media and Communication Research Conference, University College Dublin, 25 – 27 June

ABSTRACT: Burns (2003) in an historical overview of journalism education in Australia indicates that the major approaches to journalism education “have changed little and slowly since the introduction of journalism education in Australia…[and] modern research…suggests that there have been few developments in the way journalism is taught.” Although the technological changes in journalism have initiated a series of changes since Burns wrote in 2003 in a more recent survey of global journalism education research Deuze (2007) noted that many of the debates in the literature remain constant. This panel will report on the preliminary findings of an Office of Learning and Teaching funded research project that has been set up to explore and make explicit:

  • the assumptions about curriculum that are held by key journalism eductors within Australia;
  • the assumptions about curriculum that are held by key members of the media industry who employ our graduates;
  • the ways that the exigencies of the wider higher education sector shape these assumptions;
  • the ways that the exigencies of rapidly evolving media-change help shape or alter these assumptions; and
  • Identification of the key barriers and motivators for curriculum renewal in the journalism education sector and a set of model strategies and exemplars that address these issues.

Understating these issues is particularly important given: (a) the need for university programs to be able to adapt to the next wave of industrial and technological change; (b) the ongoing debate about graduate qualities and attributes; and (c) the increased focus on the development and measurement of discipline based academic standards flowing from Australian government tertiary education reform. The national project is based on interviews with 50 Australian journalism educators and 50 key editors and journalists. The project looks at the diverse media and communication landscape that currently confront journalism graduates and the need to provide an effective mix of what Anderson, Bell and Shirky (2012) have recently called the “soft” and “hard” skills. Getting this balance right is increasingly important when research suggests (Cullen & Callaghan 2010) that only a third of journalism graduates will take up traditional jobs in mainstream media with a further third pursuing broader communications and media options.