Design for the computer age

August 23, 1996

It is obviously the silly season! Two sentences by Lord Beloff about media studies (Elite and proud of it, THES, August 9) and we are subjected to discussions about the state of the students' bowels at Grimsby College. Or is Sam North's letter (THES, August 16) mentioning "high retention rate and an excellent progression ratio" about something else?

All the media professors in the land must be in Chiantishire, or we would be facing outpourings of "discourse" on the subject.

But Terry Philpott's letter (THES, August 16), hits the nail on the head when he wonders why it is less worthy to study "how mass media shapes our world" than an "obscure 15th-century Indian Buddhist". Had British academics acted like their American counterparts and trained future journalists/broadcasters from the early 1900s, such arguments would not arise. Since they did not, I have been able to turn their distaste into a PhD on Grub Street and Academia, tracing the rise - and fall - of early British attempts at educating journalists.

Much to Lord Beloff's horror, I am sure, I will even be mixing media studies with gender studies when I speak about "Teenage Girls as Journalism Students at London University 1919-39". at a two-day conference on "A Century of the Popular Press" on September 9-10.

London University, by the way, ran the diploma for journalism as a two-year course, and, when the course began, forgot to appoint any staff at all to teach journalism, But that's a different story!

FRED HUNTER Upper Park Road, Kingston, Surrey

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