Journalism is becoming increasingly global, both as a profession and as an area of study. More than ever, media production is a transnational undertaking where journalists and media content cross cultural and geographical boundaries. In the global exchange taking place, journalists could be viewed as both observers and participants. They are not just deliverers of news and information, they also shape them.
While modern media society is becoming more globalized, it is also evident that societies around the world develop their own media cultures, often in opposition to dominant Western media logics. Thus, in order to understand journalism in a globalized world, it is not sufficient to study transnational news exchange; one also has to analyse the development of local journalism culture in relation to the global media society. These diverse perspectives are but some of the areas which belong to the study of global journalism.
What is global journalism?
The term ‘global journalism’ is increasingly used to refer to an aspect of contemporary journalism. However, the term is applied somewhat differently in different contexts and may not always mean the same thing. One way to understand ‘global journalism’ is simply to equate it with transnational news exchange, particularly of the kind that large international news networks and agencies engage in, such as CNN and Reuters. Stated like this, global journalism could be seen as the counterpart to local or national journalism. Studies within this approach are interested in finding out how international journalism is practiced (e.g. by foreign correspondents) and how globalization affects journalism in light of for example economic and technological advances.
Another way to understand ‘global journalism’ is to refer to it as a particular type of reporting philosophy. Like the international journalism approach described above, this approach to global journalism focuses on professional practice, although not to denote traditional news exchange across borders but as an alternative way of covering issues of global importance. This approach is not primarily reflected in international news channels but in local media which could gain from adopting a new reporting framework emphasizing global connectivity when covering for example climate change.
A third understanding of ‘global journalism’ relates to the area of comparative journalism studies. This approach seeks to identify and compare different journalism cultures across the world in order to map out differences and commonalities in professional practice, ethics, epistemology etc. A number of such studies have been conducted since the late 1990s, some of which are among the largest studies ever undertaken within the field of journalism research.
Although each of the different uses of ‘global journalism’ are reasonable applications of the term, the Master’s Programme in Global Journalism deliberately does not limit the term to one specific approach. Instead, ‘global journalism’ is broadly defined as ‘journalism in global perspective’, thus incorporating both international news exchange, local coverage of global issues, comparative journalism studies, and more. The definition of global journalism is of necessity broad because it designates a study programme rather than a particular professional or research approach. Within the programme, there may be times when a more confined definition of global journalism is required (for example in a particular research study), but in terms of designating the overall title of the programme, ‘Global Journalism’ is meant to denote an inclusive rather than exclusive approach.
Within the many areas which global journalism can cover, NLA University College’s MA Programme in Global Journalism focuses on certain aspects which are in line with the institution’s educational profile and research priorities. The programme is closely aligned with the NLA’s international media engagement which has taken place in various countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America since the 1990s, particularly focusing on transitional societies characterized by a fragile media situation. Thus, besides covering general aspects of global journalism, the study has a particular emphasis on journalism, democracy and development; journalistic practice in transitional societies; global media imbalances; freedom of expression; media representation; and global media ethics. Overall, the MA Programme in Global Journalism provides a combination of courses and topics which gives the student both general and in-depth knowledge of the field.
Use of NLA’s international experience in the programme
The MA Programme in Global Journalism has emerged as a prolonging of the international engagement of NLA University College in journalism and media studies since the late 1990s. NLA’s Department of Journalism and Media Studies has been commissioned to assist the opening of MA degrees within the field in different transitional societies; Kosovo, Ethiopia, Uganda and Bolivia. Instructors from the department have also been involved in media development in a number of other countries, both in Western and non-Western contexts. The department’s portfolio today covers a range of educational and research activities within journalism and media studies in the global context, including short-term trainings in journalism, needs assessment reports for international agencies, media productions from transitional societies, and more.
NLA’s international experience is reflected in the MA programme. To mention but a few examples; in GJ 301 Journalism, Media and Globalization, staff members’ work in comparative journalism studies will naturally form a departure point; in GJ 302 Journalism, Democracy and Development, the department’s experience with media development on different continents can be regarded as the raison d’être for the course and will be widely referred to in the teaching; in the instruction and guidance related to the MA thesis, staff members’ extensive experience with cross-cultural research will gain the students as well.
All staff members to be used in the MA programme are fluent in at least two languages. They are all used to teach in English, and most of the staff’s research contributions are written in English.