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FEJS Paris : reports made by students

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Journalism education needs to stay ahead of the changes in society to provide the best possible education. Which are these changes that universities need to make in order to do that?*

“Curiosity is fundamental to journalism,” Mike Baker, from University of St Mark and St John in United Kingdom, said. In his opinion it is very hard to teach journalism, if even it is possible to teach it.

Learning journalism

“The curiosity is needed to learn how to be a journalist. The curiosity is required to be a good one,” he explains. In his opinion we focus too much on teaching the “doing of” journalism. “We want to teach “skills” of journalism. But it is different from learning about journalism,” Baker said.

There are some values, attitudes and knowledge that a journalist needs: accuracy; handling stress, criticism and deadlines well; curiosity. In his opinion there are some people who don’t believe university is even important, they believe it is just about the skills.

Teach less and support more

“Do we teach skills or attributes?” Baker asks. In his opinion the focus should be on telling a story, but we spend a lot of time teaching skills. “You will find a way to tell that anyway,” he added.

There are some theories that keep journalists going, like an information gap theory, which means that a person knows something about the situation, but some information is missing, so he wants to know more. Also the drive theory that focuses on desire to get things right, so the fear of being wrong drives them to be right.

Baker is convinced that sometimes the “no lecture” works. It means that the students get to know something and then the professor sees who goes to which direction. “When they think they do it for you, that’s not interesting for them. Let them fail,” he said.

In his opinion it is important to reward students so they would know that they did well. “We may have to learn to teach less and support more,” he said.

Contact with students needs to be on time

Judith Popken, from School voor Journalistiek, and Yael de Haan, from University of Applied Sciences Utrect, in Netherlands, said that it is important to be aware that we live in a challenging and changing world, in which we face new problems and new jobs, so we need new approaches in teaching journalism.

They believe that working space must be integrated. “Teachers have to guide students and offer some specific topics just on time, it means on that moment when students need it,” they said. For instance, while students report on some specific topic, they should have some classes about it, so they could learn more about it.

To make this happen, a collaboration between students and teachers is essential, as they have to work as a team. “Students must be stimulated, independent and face time-pressure,” Popken and de Haan explained. In their opinion active coaching is important – how to find a balance between teaching and coaching?

Raising stereotype awareness among journalists

“As journalists are responsible for presentation in media, so they have to be able to identify stereotypes,” Pascale Colisson, from IPJ Paris-Dauphine in France, explains.

She believes that even though the students have different backgrounds and profiles, the university wants everyone to have equal opportunities. And this is the reason why they created a stereotype awareness program – the mandatory course on stereotypes.

“We give information for both students and lecturers about our fight for equal opportunities,” she said. There is a SOS discrimination helpline, which is totally independent from the university.

*This article is based on ideas that were presented in EJTA’s conference in Paris on October 27th-28th.

Mariell Raisma, Forum for European Journalism Students

Enja Zagoršek, Forum for European Journalism Students


In journalism people with different backgrounds find their way of expression. What happens if you bring together maths, IT, art and journalism students to make a story?*

University of Jyväskylä in Finland is implementing multidisiplinary project course about newsgames for IT specialists and people from humanities field to work together: IT students need to write a code while journalists have to write a story and find the facts.

Computer games with real facts

“There is a need for multidisciplinary know-how and project work skills,” Panu Uotila, from University of Jyväskylä, explains the need for this project. In his words the project has already around 8000 players.

Uotila stresses that these are not computer games, as the information in journalism has to be true. “It was a co-work with Keskisuomalainen. They got payed, Uotila said. In his words the games were about the topics you can’t just write about: police work, refugees, as well as about regulations of small company, which is similar to strategy game.

Students make three games during the program and they have checking points where they have to show their ideas. “Of course there is always a question about commercial interests vs journalistic ideals,” he said.

Uotila believes that while playing that game students learned about scheduling, division of work and interaction.

Five ideas to cooperate with other fields

“As you need very specific skills for data journalism, so on master programme they work in small groups to go deeper into data journalism,” Pascal Guenee, from IPJ Paris-Dauphine in France, said.

In order to improve their journalism studies, the university has implemented five innovations for the students from different fields.

Firstly, a program that connects maths and journalism. Math students can take a course called “Data Journalism basics”, which is a three day program. “They are in the same room with journalists and they need to produce a story,” Guenee told. They have a new, additional course as well – advanced numeral literacy for journalism students.
Secondly, they have a program which focuses on new business models of media. The purpose of the course is to produce a new media model.
Thirdly, they have a program about web-documentary, science and sustainable development. Fourthly, the course about arts and culture journalism, which is meant for musicians or dancers and journalism students.

Finally, there is a double curricula for engineering and journalism students. “It is meant for the students who don’t want to be engineers,” Geunee said. He points out that there is a need for science journalists where they can put their knowledge into practice.

He suggests to use local resources, to look for a cooperation with the other departments in university. Of course it is not easy to implement these innovations, but Geunee is very optimistic. “If it doesn’t work we try again,” he said.

*This article is based on ideas that were presented in EJTA’s conference in Paris on October 27th-28th.

Mariell Raisma, Forum for European Journalism Students

Enja Zagoršek, Forum for European Journalism Students


There are projects in different universities that give their students an opportunity to use their knowledge of multimedia to tell a story.*

Carles Singla, from University Pompeu Fabra in Spain, believes it is important to adapt teaching methods to the changing media and journalistic environment.

Integrated Journalism Workshop

There are many things changing in journalism: from the way of contacting sources as well as how journalist prepares and publishes the information. “A clear example is the use of Twitter or Facebook to get news from different sources and to promote visualisation,” he added.

In order to prepare young journalist for his future career, the university use the method of professional simulation. “We conduct an Integrated Journalism Workshop, where students can practice in conditions close to media reality work in TV, radio, digital and printed media,” Singla said.

A 360 degree multimedia newsroom

“We should form new type of journalist, who is ready to work in the new age of digital technologies. New journalist has to work with different types of mass media, he has to be universal journalist,” Olga Vazhenina, from South Ural State University in Russia, said.

To reach that goal, they have created a 360 degree multimedia newsroom, which includes all types of mass media. “Our students have possibilities to improve their professional skills working on the radio, TV, in newspaper and creating their website,” she explained.

“The digital age makes the process of studying more intense, includes more practice and is more dynamic,” Vazhenina said. The students need to make the informational product independently and for all types of media.

Continual feedback once in a day

Pete Leydon, from Staffordshire University in United Kingdom, believes that students need continual feedback every day, not just once a year. “Private communication between tutors and students is essential in order to give feedback,” he said.

The students are reporting about the stories that are happening so they can not only focus on text, but on multimedia as well.

Leydon is convinced that students can teach each other and as they found out with the survey done among journalism students, it improves students skills and also the awareness of ethical issues.

*This article is based on ideas that were presented in EJTA’s conference in Paris on October 27th-28th.

Mariell Raisma, Forum for European Journalism Students

Enja Zagoršek, Forum for European Journalism Students


Nowadays there are many ways to communicate with students, many platforms where to upload the outcomes and many ways to create hyperlocal stories. Here are some examples to follow.*

In order to make journalism more participative and offer non-formal references, the Institute for Higher Social Communication Studies (IHECS) in Brussels started using blogging to teach journalism.

Blog empowers students

“The aim of this blog is to empower and give responsibilities – we need to think that what kind of society and human beings we want to create,” Amandine Degand, from IHECS in Belgium, said.

“Even though there are many different projects, they all have the same ambition – to give voice to underrepresented social groups”, she explained. Degand sees Bondy blog as a way for students to publish their work and through that to face real editorial issues, gain visibility and real audience. It gives students a possibility to reflect and observe reality.

Degand explained that they choose local news so the students can learn how to choose a subject to report; how to choose a specific topic, how to present it in their own way and last but not least – how to talk with the audience.

“But the challenge is that it takes a lot of time, not only for students but also for teachers, because students need real feedback,” she concluded.

Using social media and blogs for communication

“Collective learning, working in teams, collaborating – all that improves self confidence and makes students learn from each other,” Kari Koljonen and Reetta Tervakangas, from University of Tampere in Finland, named three keywords of their journalism program.

It consists of planning, execution, evaluation and development for both: teachers and students. For instance in evaluation for teachers they analyse students’ work and try to understand the weaknesses and strengths of the students. The planning for students requires that they are willing to share their ideas with others.

In their words it is important that the program is more interactive and include the division of labour and multitasking. Then the students can practise managing skills as well as their co-work skills.

For internal communication they use Facebook, Wikispaces and Blogs, which enable a feedback for every student.

They make co-work with Moreenimeedia.

They have three teams: visual, news, features. Each team is mentored by a student on a master program.

Hyperlocal stories focus on maps

According to Eric Nahon, from IPJ Paris-Dauphine, they use dynamic methods for teaching journalism in their university. The students volunteer in media sector which shows that that they are willing to do something more than just attending the compulsory lectures, and they are also awarded with extra marks for doing so.

They have made reports, long informs, live tweets, radio shows, videos, maps, data and cronuts, which are the most watched articles. The maps are very important in hyperlocal stories, to specify the exact location where the action has occurred.

“When you have people, who don’t live here, you need to explain them how the things are here, as they don’t know that and that is the main problem of hyperlocal stories,” Nahon explained. “When you leave students alone, sometimes you get a letter from a lawyer that you don’t have a right to make a photo there.”

They also have held a competition, where two teams take part. They have one week per team. (@DailyNeuvieme)

Learning how to set up a website

“New teaching methods can help students to have better understanding and approach to a real-life problem solving, which in many cases may be connected to the use of some specific technologies,” Radu Meza, from Babes-Bolyai University in Romania, said.   

They organize an online project competition in teams of two to five members where students have a semester to come up with an idea for a new content-driven website, create it and run it. “Quality of content and design, but also unique visitors and sustainability are used as grading criteria,” Meza said.

“We believe that future journalists need to be capable to quickly set up a website for any professional project, create and promote content on the web and social media in small, flexible teams,” he explained.    

 As new devices and platforms became widely used, traditional business models have been challenged by services like Google and Facebook and the information flow is continuously reshaped. “The two-sided traditional market models are failing everywhere and future journalists need skills that will allow them to operate more flexibly like information brokers and entrepreneurs,” he concluded.

*This article is based on ideas that were presented in EJTA’s conference in Paris on October 27th-28th.

Mariell Raisma, Forum for European Journalism Students

Enja Zagoršek, Forum for European Journalism Students