Cultivating the media activist:
How critical media literacy and
critical service learning can
reform journalism education
© The Author(s) 2013
Reprints and permission: sagepub.
Lynn Schofield Clark
University of Denver, USA
The task of journalism education has been defined in relation to both the professional needs of the journalism industry and the need to educate well-informed citizens. A key part of journalism education involves introducing students to what Deuze (2005) terms the professional ideology of journalism, which includes commitments to public service, commitments to impartiality or objectivity, and a belief in the ideal of journalistic autonomy. Deuze has argued that this professional ideology has shifted in response to multiculturalism and new media. This article therefore sets out to explore the implications of these changes for journalism education and for the formation of the worldview of student journalists. The article considers a case study of a project involving critical service learning in an introductory class for journalism students. The article proposes that media activism, public journalism, and critical service learning may be drawn upon in journalism education as resources in the formation of an emergent journalistic worldview. Exploring student responses to this project through a framework of Youth Participatory Action Research, the article argues that such efforts can help journalism educators to achieve the pedagogical goal of enabling students to critique existing arrangements of power and develop a globally sensitive perspective while producing news stories across media platforms that reflect a deep appreciation for learning about and understanding the diverse communities they serve. Keywords
Community-engaged partnerships, critical media literacy, critical service learning, global news audience, journalism education, media activism, public journalism, youth participatory action research
Lynn Clark, Estlow International Center for Journalism and New Media, University of Denver, 2490 S. Gaylord St, Denver, CO 80208, USA.
What do journalism students need to know? This question has often resulted in heated exchanges regarding theory versus practice, or industry versus the academy (Glasser, 2006; Nolan, 2008; Reese, 1999). Approaching this question from the perspective of the journalism industry, some have advocated the development of entrepreneurial skills as well as the development of specialized expertise (Baines and Kennedy, 2010; King, 2010; McKinsey, 2005). From the liberal arts view, journalism education is understood in relation to the formation of what Deuze (2006) terms ‘super-citizens’, or those individuals who can approach existing media industries with both a critical eye and a historical sensibility. This latter approach widens the long-standing professional orientation of journalism education to propose that civic knowledge and civic participation are part of the prospective journalist’s skill set (Banaji and Buckingham, 2007; Clark and Monserrate, 2011).
Deuze proposes that one way to move the discussion beyond the industry/university impasse is to consider what unites journalism and journalism education. He looks to what he terms the professional ideology of journalists, which he defines as the ‘collection of values, strategies, and professional codes characterizing professional journalism and shared by most of its members’ (2005: 445). Deuze suggests that there are five qualities to this professional ideology, which include commitments to: (1) providing a public service; (2) being impartial, neutral, fair, and credible; (3) journalistic autonomy; (4) immediacy; and (5) ethics. By focusing...