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Trial by Media: The Case For and Against Media Studies in the UK Press Dr Dan Laughey School of Cultural Studies Leeds Metropolitan University www.danlaughey.com.

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Presentation on theme: "Trial by Media: The Case For and Against Media Studies in the UK Press Dr Dan Laughey School of Cultural Studies Leeds Metropolitan University www.danlaughey.com."— Presentation transcript:

1 Trial by Media: The Case For and Against Media Studies in the UK Press Dr Dan Laughey School of Cultural Studies Leeds Metropolitan University

2 Method Nexus search for UK national newspaper articles including the terms media studies and soft subject Current archives go back no further than the late 1970s (only the late 1990s for some tabloids) Approx 50 reports extracted for closer analysis Rudimentary content analysis of all results

3 Content analysis overview Media studies and SS – 280 hits Art and SS – 224 Psychology – 163 Film studies – 102 Sociology – 79 Business studies – 51 PE/sports science – 27 Golf course management – 14 Theatre studies – 13

4 The Cambridge A-Level blacklist Business studies Art and Design Communication studies Dance Drama/Theatre studies Home economics Leisure studies Media studies Photography PE Sports studies Travel and Tourism

5 Critics and Defenders CRITICS Right-leaning Tory and Labour politicians (Hodge, Grayling) Pressure-groups (Campaign for Real Education, Reform) Some journalists (esp Daily Mail & Telegraph) Some union/industry reps (Bectu, NCTJ) Some academics/ educators (Woodhead, QAA, Smithers, Starkey, Scruton) DEFENDERS Media studies academics/teachers (Buckingham, Feldman, Ellis) Some politicians (Boris Johnson, Estelle Morris, Phil Willis) Some journalists (inc those with media degrees) Think-tanks (Adam Smith Institute)

6 Summary of main criticisms (1) Poor employability record Too vocational – not academic enough Too theoretical – not industry-geared Too easy/soft/Mickey Mouse Too many courses (approx 2000 UK media courses at HE) hit recruitment targets but are often under-funded HE should only cater for the best

7 Main criticisms (2) Media studies may be anti-elitist but it is also anti-intellectual Media graduates not fulfilling wider economic or public service needs X-Factor generation – feckless, fickle and full of drop-outs Lacks a canon/body of study (Eng Lit has Shakespeare, Chaucer, etc.) Politically left-leaning

8 Main points of defence (1) Employability is high – and few degrees guarantee a given job Media studies just the latest victim (like Eng Lit and sociology before it) Mix of theory and vocational elements are an interdisciplinary strength Importance of not just teaching about the media but through the media

9 Points of defence (2) Media studies is relevant to (young) peoples experiences unlike classics, etc. Media studies helps to foster media professionalism and ethics – and combat distortion, misreporting, etc. Journalists only dislike the subject because it scrutinises what they do (hence some become self-proclaimed media experts) Media studies ideally develops on cusp of economic change from manufacturing to communication/creative industries

10 Some recommendations Name change? NO, unless you drop studies Consistent name? YES, if possible Avoid petty jibes at journalists/the media Avoid assuming public opinion of media studies is same as press/political opinion Academic standards to come before industry requirements (teachers/scholars decide what gets studied) – but not to neglect theory-practice nexus Defend popular media texts by recourse to history (Shakespeare was pop too) Compare like with like (maths IS harder)


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