Media studies.

In this section some of the contributions are anonymous. faxfn can contact them if necessary.

25feb98: George Courtice: Media training creates jobs for trainers!

There are about 30,000 students on courses training for jobs in the media. Most of the courses are highly targeted for specific jobs. But there are only 30,000 jobs in the media in the UK.

As a trade unionist, I feel we should give these students the chance to join our industry. But as a practising professional I just cannot see how this training will, in the long run, increase the number of secure jobs in the industry. But, of course, it does create jobs for lots of trainers.

Part of the reason for this expansion is that our profession is one which is attractive to students so when colleges set up courses they can fill the places. But should we be spending resources to train students for jobs they will never get?

25feb98: Barry Stephenson: No jobs for students of media studies.

From Barry Stephenson, Editor, BBC Radio Humberside.

When I speak to media studies students at local universities I tell them "If you want to get a job in broadcast journalism, you are wasting your time. I won't give you a job."

I would always advise young people to go and get a proper degree in english, history or philosophy. Then they can do a post graduate course in journalism.

27feb98: Phil Markey, Head of Media, JMU: Media education that gets jobs!

George Courtice should visit the School of Media at Liverpool's John Moore's University to look at the courses we are running in conjunction with the media industry in TV and print journalism.

The courses are supported by the local industry where students gain work experience during their course and we have evidence to prove the students do get jobs.

06mar98: Carolyn Hodgeson, presenter YTV: Learning on the job.

I learnt more in two weeks at Radio York than you ever would in a class room.

01mar98: Rosemary Lythgoe: So much for a linguistics degree.

My degree is in linguistics. Over the past year I have gained considerable experience working in hospitals and residential nursing homes. I heard that the BBC was interested in doing some pieces on the NHS in the run-up to its 50th anniversary. I habitually keep extensive diaries and I have seen several aspects of the NHS that would surprise or shock so I offered my services to BBC Radio York for a few months. I had arranged that this period would be my financial responsibility.

This avenue was closed before it began as can be seen from this reply.

Dear Ms Lythgoe

Thank you for your recent fax enquiring about the possibility of work experience here at Radio York.

Unfortunately, as we receive a great many such requests we have now adopted a policy of only taking students who are in further education following a specific course in journalism.

I'm sorry I can't be more helpful on this occasion.

Thank you for your interest in BBC Radio York.

Yours sincerely

I realised a long time ago my degree in linguistics was not teaching me much, (not even a foreign language). What is so wonderful about these courses in journalism? Do they give you talent? Did Martin Bell do one? Did Kate Adie do one? I get this uncomfortable feeling that journalist student means journalist student nerd.

Barry Stephenson, what sort of degree did you do?

01mar98: Brian Jenner: Training should inculcate certain professional standards.

Media training should be an essential part of a career in journalism. That training should inculcate certain professional standards: knowledge of the law of libel, how to structure a news story, the importance of balance in reporting, a code of ethics, not to mention shorthand and typing skills.

However, for some reason the profession seems to attract very few idealistic individuals. I have worked at The Guardian, The Independent and The Daily Telegraph and I was appalled by the general turpitude of the journalists. They are run by self-congratulating cabals. There is little room for imagination, intelligence or humour.

But that doesn't mean one should give up. A good training means that one can listen to stories and spot editorial manipulation, 'advertorial' and political bias. New media and new technology mean that you can start your own community newspaper or website for a few hundred pounds. The big newspaper brands have a very uncertain future (especially with the quality of individuals who run them). How are they going to sustain their revenues from their Internet sites?

I did a traditional degree followed by a postgraduate diploma in journalism. Nobody ever seemed to be impressed by my qualification in journalism. I gained entry into national newspapers through finding stories, contacts or luck. But when I put together my work, I remember the principles, and through the selective journalism I do, I can try to keep them.

The profession is crawling with amateurs, hangers-on and rotters, otherwise it would have been realised long ago that training is essential.

Brian Jenner

Tarsus Communications