Welcome to www.mediastudiesstrikesback.org.uk, started 03 april 2003.
Media studies strikes back
Does media studies get too much of a kicking?
Faxfn has had several contributions putting the boot into media studies - and omitted others like the one from a government minister who said "There are 30,000 students doing media studies chasing 35 jobs. They all want to be Chris Evans. They don't stand a chance."
Media studies academics look slightly confused when asked what the point of [the criticism of media studies] is. Their practical course offer students vocational training in video, radio, periodicals, public relations -- every conceivable branch, in fact, of the media. About three-quarters of students find work. Theoretical courses are served with dollops of Marx, Weber, Brecht, feminism, psychoanalysis and postmodernism. David Cardiff, at Westminster University does not have a problem with the intellectual relevance of media studies: "They are just as important as English literature and probably more directly important in the modern world."
But "as important as" may be no big deal given the criticism of traditional degree subjects made by some contributors to faxfn:
"A lot of the time, the academics really did talk tosh, too. The late Eighties and early Nineties were the high point of daft academic feminism and batty Marxism: on the night the Berlin Wall fell, in 1989, I was listening to a lecture on the Homeric myth as a metaphor of late capitalism. I listened to seminars on Jane Eyre as the metaphor of the governess as proletariat ("Did Charlotte Bronte read Engels?"). I was involved in a deconstruction of Pride And Prejudice as a metaphor for the menopause (the hidden narrative being that Mrs Bennet was going through the change of life)."or
"They learn some from highly paid professors who now teach a way of writing that sounds clever whatever you are actually saying. This language has a lot of "theoretical" apparatus. But this is not the testable theorising of scientific method. It is a mixture of old dead white male stuff but not in a pure and original form. It is a brew of Marx, Freud and Levi Strauss seen through the prism of French intellectuals which have been badly translated."(See below)
So. Who is going to support media studies against the other smug bastards with degrees in less worthwhile subjects but which are immune from criticism because they are traditional? If you want to and will take over www.mediastudiesstrikesback.org.uk contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a stopgap, here are a few of the contributions taken from www.faxfn.org
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: 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.
09oct99a: Durnks on the train: More naked emperors?
(The drunks are probably lecturers in an arts subject, possibly English literature.)
Research students must publish more than you could possibly publish if you were doing proper research. So they have to publish pseudo- research. The conscientious ones have to persuade themselves to believe it all and learn survival techniques.
They learn some from highly paid professors who now teach a way of writing that sounds clever whatever you are actually saying. This language has a lot of "theoretical" apparatus. But this is not the testable theorising of scientific method. It is a mixture of old dead white male stuff but not in a pure and original form. It is a brew of Marx, Freud and Levi Strauss seen through the prism of French intellectuals which have been badly translated. (Some of these sound quite sensible in the original.)
So students must learn to write like a bad translation of French theoreticians of the mid twentieth century. But if the government says they must publish allot, irrespective of content, then this is a good way for them to get ahead.
Another technique is to "theorise internal experiences" which seems to mean reflecting hard about your own experiences and theorising about them. (Editor: Our reporter seems to have lost the plot here but if anyone reading this can support him with more evidence of this strange practice, or knows anyone with a PhD in self-reflecting theorising please let us know.)
19oct02a: Psychology Graduate: Freud - not for psychologists.
06feb99: John Oxley: Subsidised Beowulf for the Middle Classes
I am not usually a Daily Express reader but Mary Kenny's piece "On mature students' sacrifices" on February 5th made me think of some of the entries I had seen on www.faxfn.org
When she was a mature student and a "hard-bitten, been there, done that type" she had the expected scepticism for academics:
"A lot of the time, the academics really did talk tosh, too. The late Eighties and early Nineties were the high point of daft academic feminism and batty Marxism: on the night the Berlin Wall fell, in 1989, I was listening to a lecture on the Homeric myth as a metaphor of late capitalism. I listened to seminars on Jane Eyre as the metaphor of the governess as proletariat ("Did Charlotte Bronte read Engels?"). I was involved in a deconstruction of Pride And Prejudice as a metaphor for the menopause (the hidden narrative being that Mrs Bennet was going through the change of life)."This may sound like cheap criticisms (which are rarely answered) but it was her next sentence that alerted me.
"To be sure, there was some engaging literary teaching and if a degree course only gets you to read Beowulf and Browning closely, it's worth it."For Ms Kenny, it may have been a worth-while way to spend her (hard earned?) salary as a popular journalist. But where is the justification for the vast government subsidies on the education of the sons and daughters of the middle classes? Us cynics might suspect that the main justification comes from the results of a Home Counties focus group.
If the justification is "purely educational" (ie. not job related) why should we be spending so much on the priviledged? If it is training for the national proserity should not we have some benchmarks to show whether the money is well spent.