Good news for journalism

October 2, 2008

How disappointing to read Tim Luckhurst, the new director of the Centre for Journalism at the University of Kent, suggesting that journalism studies offers practitioners only "meagre pickings" and arguing that "very little academic work on journalism deserves the attention of working journalists" (Textbook Guide, 18 September). Given such views, one wonders why Luckhurst so readily deserted the newsroom for the classroom.

He does at least have the grace to admit that the study of journalism benefits from "academic studies rooted in the established disciplines of history, political science and philosophy" but is perhaps too new to the field to realise that it is from these areas that many of today's leading journalism scholars emerged.

Indeed, this is one reason why they believe that journalism education and training, which requires both theory and practice, involves an understanding of the professional practices of journalism and also a critical appreciation of the political, economic, social, cultural and ethical contexts in which it is conducted.

The academy is consequently well placed to become a focus for the education and training of journalists as well as scholarship in the field of journalism studies. It is also noteworthy that in Luckhurst's list of established disciplines that he considers beneficial to the study of journalism, he omits media studies, which has also contributed a number of notable scholars to the field. However, it has also long been an easy target for lazy and ill-informed journalists, and one sincerely hopes that Luckhurst is not one of their number.

Bob Franklin, School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University; Julian Petley, School of Arts, Brunel University.

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