Comforting the Afflicted or Afflicting the Comfortable: The Role of Journalism in the Academy

By Katrina Mandy Oakham.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The new professional disciplines such as journalism and public relations face unique challenges in entering the academy. As they formulate their own methodologies, pedagogies and theoretical frameworks inevitable tensions arise between them and the more traditional disciplines.

As recently as January of this year in announcing the establishment of a new institute of journalism at Oxford University backed by £1.75m funding from Reuters, the vice-chancellor of Oxford University, Dr John Hood, outlined plans to make this new centre one of the most authoritative sources of reliable analysis of journalism at an international, national and local level.

He went on to say that the aim of the institute would be to “break down the barriers of
incomprehension and distrust which have tended to define the relationship between the academy and journalism.” It is that ambivalent relationship which provides the focus for this paper.

As late as the mid 90s in the Australian academy focus was on the so called “Media Wars” with proponents of a pure and empirical form of journalism education declaring “No More Theory!” Tensions remain at least in the Australian context between the profession and practitioners and those who have moved to journalism education. Even within the ranks of the educators there are still divisions between those who see themselves only as practitioners with skills to impart, and those who see themselves as also building the disciplinary base.

Interdisciplinarity is often seen as the solution to such tensions but such hybrid mergings bring with them their own problems. This paper looks at the “Media Wars” and their aftermath, and provides a case study of a discipline still seeking its own secure methodological and theoretical niche within the academy.

Keywords: Journalism, Cultural Studies

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 1, Issue 6, pp.137-144. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.768MB).

Dr. Katrina Mandy Oakham

Senior Lecturer, Senior Lecturer in Journalism, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia

Katrina Oakham was a journalist in Australia and the United Kingdom for almost 15 years before becoming a trainer and consultant in the United Kingdom. She was head of journalism at the East Surrey College in England and was an examiner for the National Council for the Training of Journalists. She is the editor of Don't Bury The Lead, the creator of the CD ROM HotCopy and is co-author of Reporting in a Multi Media World.

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