Lycra nightmare and media dream

October 28, 2005

Name: Karin Wahl-Jorgensen

Age: 32

Job: Senior lecturer, Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural

Studies, Cardiff University

Salary: mid-30s

Background: I'm from Denmark, but educated in the US - PhD in communication from Stanford University. Between my BA and PhD I worked as a journalist in Washington DC. I have been at Cardiff since 2000. I teach courses and do research on the relationship between journalism and democracy.

Working hours and conditions: I love my job and its flexible hours and so I end up working non-stop.

Number of students you teach: I teach undergraduate and postgraduate courses, about 1.5 to 2 modules a semester. Undergraduate courses typically have enrolments of 60, postgraduate about 20. Next year, I'll be director of the MA in journalism studies, which attracts lots of international students.

Biggest challenge this year: This was my first year as external examiner for Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone. When the civil war ended in 2002, the college set up a degree in journalism and mass communications. I was examining the first graduates who are going to make a real difference to civil society. It was a challenge to work in such a different environment. There is little electricity, few books, no on-campus photocopiers and not enough paper. I was humbled by the ability of the lecturers to educate gifted journalists.

Worst moment in university life: Any interaction with the photocopier.

What is your working space like? I work in a late 1800s Portland stone building on the city centre campus.

What university facilities do you use? The cafeterias, and I also visit our gym whenever I can face the prospect of encountering my students while kitted out in Lycra.

Do you socialise with people at the university? Most of my friends in Cardiff are current or former colleagues. The social life is fantastic for students. Early morning seminars are unpopular.

Most difficult customers: People who stumble into my office asking for directions. Our building must have been designed as a maze.

Best excuse for bad behaviour: I'm a foreigner.

Do you interact much with other parts of the university? Increasingly, though against the odds. Our schools are like nation-states. Each has its own language, culture and politics.

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