It doesn’t take much time staring at a media law textbook two weeks before an exam to ask yourself “Christ, why am I doing this?” But rather than using my self-loathing to whine about how hard things are (they’re not really, but many seem to think their world is pretty grim) I got to thinking about what I had learnt and achieved during my year at City University studying their Newspaper Journalism MA.
Don’t worry, I’m not getting into the whole ‘are journalism courses worth it’ debate we’ve had our say on that (for now). Instead, as I sit reading about defamation cases I ponder how students get the most out of a journalism course and what the best methods are for ‘learning journalism’.
As well as revising Media law I am also writing my final essay for the course. I have enjoyed the lectures by Roy Greenslade, all of which have covered a great variety of topics in an interesting way and the two essays we have had to write following these lectures have actually been useful exercises. For example the chance to debate the ethics behind protecting sources was an interesting and pretty rewarding task. But does essay writing really make me a better journalist? Sure, I learnt a lot about the topics I have chosen to write about but is that going to enhance my work in journalism? Or is it a case that the knowledge of ethics within journalism is more important?
And then there is the media law exam itself. I’m not going to lie, I have struggled to get my head around some of the legal issues which, whilst I know are vital, I just want to forget about. But as I sit trying to cram before the test in two weeks time I wonder whether, considering the enormity of the topic and how important it can be – is one exam really enough? Am I really going to have improved my knowledge of the legal system sufficiently or will it be a case, as it often has been with me and education, that I learn it for an exam and then it is pretty much forgotten within a few months? Would the subject be more suited to regular essays on all the topics within media law? Or is it more a case that this is exam is my basic grounding and it’s on up to me to learn more?
Don’t get me wrong I have enjoyed the course and found it has benefited me in many ways. I should also point out that we have done lots of practical exercises (introductions, vox-pops, video work, production) during the year, it’s just I am thinking about the essays and exams at this present time.
I often wonder whether what I am learning will stick with me for my entire career or whether some of it is just interesting but ultimately forgettable tasks. I guess I’ll just have to let you know in a few months time. For now though it’s back to the books.
If you have studied a journalism course what aspects have you found most useful as you have progressed? Do you think essay writing should play a part in ‘learning’ journalism? Is passing a media law exam enough proof that you know your legal rights and wrongs?
- Forget the books, the lessons and the exams. This is why you should do a journalism course… I hate to sound a little like a broken record...
After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look