Journalism education and the needs of professional journalism in Flanders

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Involved researchers : Michaël Opgenhaffen, Leen d’Haenens & Maarten Corten

Michaël Opgenhaffen, Leen d’Haenens and Maarten Corten published in Journalism Studies : Journalistic tools of the trade in Flanders.  They are also guest editors of the journal’s special issue on journalistic skills.

This research is based on two observations. First, journalism practice has changed rapidly and dramatically in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Digitization has imposed pressures on conventional business models, transformed the news production process, and redefined the relationship between newsmakers and their audiences. Second, during that same period Flemish journalism education has boomed, resulting in as many as six professional Bachelor’s programs and three academic Master’s programs in journalism. These parallel developments have led us to investigate the (mis)match between the needs of Flemish professional journalism, on the one hand, and the ambitions of Flemish journalism curricula, on the other. To this end a survey was distributed among 600 professional journalists to map the competencies they feel are required for the job. Linking these competencies to specific media profiles enabled us to assess the relative importance of each item within a specific working context. Then all Flemish professional and academic journalism education programs were analyzed based on topic focus and media platform. The findings of these investigations were aggregated in an effort to identify the degree of congruence (or lack of it) between the professional field and the educational programs on offer.

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