The Malta Independent 26 November 2022, Saturday
View E-Paper

Journalism as a profession needs to be put under a better spotlight - MCAST journalism coordinator

Sabrina Zammit Wednesday, 27 July 2022, 09:28 Last update: about 5 months ago

Journalism as a profession needs to be put under a better spotlight, according to Dr Ian Attard, MCAST BA(Hons) Creative Media Production and BA(Hons) Journalism senior lecturer and subject coordinator

Speaking about the relevance and the future developments of the BA Journalism course offered at MCAST, the senior lecturer elaborated on how the academic team approaches the subject through positivity and constructivist learning methodologies.

ADVERTISEMENT

He warns, however, that “there are many factors that are not helping potential future journalists to choose to work and to learn about journalism.”

This does not only happen in Malta but is like a “global pandemic, so to speak, but in Malta I feel as a personal statement that the profession needs to be put in a better spotlight. We try to do that in the course internally, but I think help from other entities will get better results,” Attard said.

Focusing the discussion on the BA(Hons) in Journalism, offered exclusively at MCAST Institute for the Creative Arts in Mosta and initiated six years ago, Attard said that the student intake could improve a lot more if there was more respect towards the profession.

Notwithstanding this, the journalism course has improved a lot academically over the years. He added that the profession could also benefit from a better regulatory professional framework as, currently, many of the roles in media are overlapping, making it very hard to identify tasks associated with a certain type of profession and level.

Despite the lack of a professional regulatory framework for journalists and media practitioners, the majority of students enrolled in Media Production and Journalism courses offered by the Institute for the Creative Arts find work in the industry whilst studying, making it easier for them to transition to a full-time career after completing their desired level of education.

“We do have very good feedback from industry as well,” said Attard.

He explained that it is with great pride and joy that MCAST Media and Journalism lecturers see their students flourish as their work is published through different media such as television, radio, podcast and print and “in my opinion that is quite a good certificate for the institute that the courses are aligned with current industry requirements”. 

Attard said that, back in 2016, the MCAST team was approached by contemporary stakeholders in the industry regarding the need for a course specialising in broadcast journalism to address important gaps in the industry.

He explained how the course is different from others offered by other institutions as students are trained hands on, not only on how to use traditional media platforms but also  to explore and develop content across other platforms such as online and digital media. 

The Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (Honours) course has also just undergone its very first cyclical review, whose end goal is to learn about new gaps and demands in the industry to make the course more relevant and applicable for our local media industry. Typically, cyclical reviews are done on such courses every three to four years.

As part of this review, students together with their lecturers were asked to contribute ideas about how they think the course could help them enhance their skills to better their chances of becoming significant contributors to the industry. Apart from the opinion of students and lecturers, the cyclical review took into consideration perspectives from high-level entities in the industry and that of professional journalists who kindly offered to contribute valuable feedback to help identify ways in which the course can become even more aligned with the needs of the sector.

 

Course reviewed, being re-developed

Now that the course has been reviewed, it is currently being re-developed to focus more on the ethical and legal aspect of journalism.  Apart from that, Attard said that there is also a unanimous feeling amongst lecturers that the course itself can also do better now because of the teaching of media literacy subjects in mainstream secondary education.

Referring to the kind of journalists that graduate form the journalism course, Attard said that even from the entry requirements, it is clearly indicated the skills needed by students to be able to complete the course. Particularly, communication skills and use of languages.

“Since communication skills are fundamental when pursuing a career in journalism, this MCAST programme requires qualifications in languages amongst its entry requirements” he said.

Attard added that students would go on to build on those communication skills “as apart from writing and oral skills, filming and editing are also required skills to excel in this subject”.

Speaking about the current team, Attard said that given the lecturers’ high-level experience in the industry, lecturers would be able to tell from a student’s aptitude and will to learn if they are going to excel in having a career in journalism. He added that intakes for the course vary between five to ten students per year, with some of them dropping out as “it is not an easy subject”.

Despite this, alumni have gone to pursue a masters degree in international institutions whilst others are currently writing their own success stories in the local industry.

Attard said that whoever is interested in the course can apply by no later than 29 July, with second calls for applications in August.

Delving further into the course entry requirements, he said that currently students need an MQF level four Advanced Diploma in Creative Media Production or a level four Advanced Diploma in Photography or else an Advanced level pass in either Maltese or English languages together with other general entry requirements for admission to any MCAST degree programme. 

In terms of what the course offers on a year-by-year basis, Attard explained that through an array of different modules, first year students will delve into contextual, literal and technical aspects of journalism.

Second year students are expected to produce content for broadcast journalism such as features for online platforms and TV/Radio news productions, podcasts, print articles as well as hands-on practice on various graphic design packages, video editing software and industry standard broadcast technology.

Students also learn specific skills in reading, writing and oral communication for journalists in both Maltese and English languages, hence the importance for students to know how to communicate and express themselves well in both languages prior enrolment.

In the final year, students (most of them attending lectures whilst working), research and develop their final year thesis. Students usually focus on local and international journalism practises and issues relating to their preferred areas of study.

 

 

  • don't miss