OPINION: Why short courses are key in complementing college training of journalists

OPINION: Why short courses are key in complementing college training of journalists

By‌ ‌David‌ ‌Omwoyo‌ ‌



Continuous‌ ‌training‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌prerequisite‌ ‌of‌ ‌good‌ ‌journalism.‌ ‌This‌ ‌has‌ ‌become‌ ‌increasingly‌ ‌important‌ ‌especially‌ ‌because‌ ‌newsgathering,‌ ‌production,‌ ‌distribution‌ ‌and‌ ‌consumption‌ ‌has‌ ‌changed‌ ‌greatly‌ ‌since‌ ‌the‌ ‌advent‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌digital‌ ‌age‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌attendant‌ ‌rise‌ ‌of‌ ‌non-linear‌ ‌journalism. ‌ ‌ ‌

This‌ ‌has‌ ‌spawned‌ ‌challenges‌ ‌in‌ ‌journalism‌ ‌education,‌ ‌with‌ ‌educators‌ ‌and‌ ‌media‌ ‌professionals‌ ‌alike‌ ‌acknowledging‌ ‌the‌ ‌need‌ ‌for‌ ‌curriculum‌ ‌reform‌ ‌to‌ ‌reflect‌ ‌the‌ ‌realities‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌industry.‌ ‌

Yet,‌ ‌response‌ ‌in‌ ‌journalism‌ ‌education‌ ‌to‌ ‌changing‌ ‌industry‌ ‌needs‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌slow‌ ‌and‌ ‌inadequate‌ ‌because‌ ‌of‌ ‌many‌ ‌dynamics‌ ‌such‌ ‌as‌ ‌high‌ ‌enrollment‌ ‌numbers‌ ‌and‌ ‌diminishing‌ ‌funding‌ ‌to‌ ‌training‌ ‌institutions.‌ ‌

Journalism‌ ‌training‌ ‌institutions‌ ‌need‌ ‌to‌ ‌closely‌ ‌connect‌ ‌the‌ ‌classroom‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌newsroom‌ ‌and‌ ‌synching‌ ‌it‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌needs‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌fast-changing‌ ‌digitally‌ ‌oriented‌ ‌media‌ ‌industry.‌ ‌

Notably,‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌is‌ ‌moving‌ ‌away‌ ‌from‌ ‌academic-based‌ ‌only‌ ‌training‌ ‌to‌ ‌competency-based‌ ‌ curricula‌ ‌that‌ ‌better‌ ‌serve‌ ‌the‌ ‌needs‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌market.‌ ‌And‌ ‌while‌ ‌some‌ ‌training‌ ‌institutions‌ ‌are‌ ‌redesigning‌ ‌media‌ ‌education‌ ‌programmes,‌ ‌many‌ ‌are‌ ‌facing‌ ‌challenges‌ ‌in‌ ‌transforming‌ ‌their‌ ‌curricula‌ ‌
to‌ ‌address‌ ‌fast-changing‌ ‌industry‌ ‌needs.‌ ‌

Yet‌ ‌this‌ ‌important‌ ‌task‌ ‌cannot‌ ‌be‌ ‌left‌ ‌to‌ ‌newsrooms‌ ‌or‌ ‌colleges‌ ‌alone.‌ ‌The‌ ‌Media‌ ‌Council‌ ‌of‌ ‌Kenya‌ ‌has,‌ ‌for‌ ‌instance,‌ ‌identified‌ ‌the‌ ‌modular‌ curriculum‌ ‌approach‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌key‌ ‌tool‌ ‌in‌ ‌ensuring‌ ‌higher‌ ‌standards‌ ‌of‌ ‌journalism‌ ‌training‌ ‌and‌ ‌practice‌ ‌in‌ ‌Kenya.‌ ‌

This‌ ‌has‌ ‌necessitated‌ ‌engagements‌ ‌between‌ ‌media‌ ‌stakeholders‌ ‌including‌ ‌media‌ ‌houses‌ ‌and‌ ‌journalism‌ ‌colleges‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌country‌ ‌to‌ ‌identify‌ ‌gaps‌ ‌in‌ ‌current‌ ‌media‌ ‌training‌ ‌and‌ ‌devise‌ ‌interventions.‌

These‌ ‌include‌ ‌reviewing‌ ‌and‌ ‌aligning‌ ‌training‌ ‌curriculum‌ ‌and‌ ‌developing‌ ‌short,‌ ‌independent‌ ‌units‌ ‌that‌ ‌meet‌ ‌media‌ ‌industry‌ ‌needs‌ ‌and‌ ‌satisfy‌ ‌quality‌ ‌requirements‌ ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌fast-paced‌ ‌world.‌ ‌

The‌ ‌integrated‌ ‌curriculum‌ ‌(modular)‌ ‌approach‌ ‌is‌ ‌one‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌key‌ ‌platforms‌ ‌towards‌ ‌enhancing‌ ‌professionalism‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌media‌ ‌for‌ ‌several‌ ‌reasons.‌ ‌It‌ ‌seeks‌ ‌to‌ ‌align‌ ‌the‌ ‌media‌ ‌training‌ ‌programmes‌ ‌with‌ ‌the‌ ‌national‌ ‌Competency‌ ‌Based‌ ‌Curriculum‌ ‌(CBC)‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌Competency‌ ‌Based‌ ‌Education‌ ‌and‌ ‌
Training‌ ‌(CBET). ‌

It‌ ‌also‌ ‌creates‌ ‌rooms‌ ‌to‌ ‌strengthen‌ ‌the‌ ‌links‌ ‌between‌ ‌training‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌world‌ ‌of‌ work,‌ ‌allowing‌ ‌the‌ ‌latter‌ ‌to‌ ‌respond‌ ‌better‌ ‌to‌ ‌employer‌ ‌and‌ ‌stakeholder‌ ‌needs.‌ ‌Further,‌ ‌this‌ ‌method‌ ‌will‌ ‌provide‌ ‌greater‌ ‌opportunities‌ ‌for‌ ‌learners‌ ‌to‌ ‌move‌ ‌in‌ ‌and‌ ‌out‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌training‌ ‌ecosystem,‌ ‌enabling‌ ‌access‌ ‌and‌ ‌expanding‌ ‌progression,‌ ‌while‌ ‌improving‌ ‌their‌ ‌competencies.‌ ‌

Conversely,‌ ‌the‌ ‌modular‌ ‌approach‌ ‌will‌ ‌not‌ ‌only‌ ‌introduce‌ ‌greater‌ ‌flexibility‌ ‌into‌ ‌journalism‌ ‌training,‌ ‌but‌ ‌will‌ ‌also‌ ‌make‌ ‌it‌ ‌attractive‌ ‌and‌ ‌ultimately‌ ‌help‌ ‌combat‌ ‌high‌ ‌youth‌ ‌unemployment‌ ‌in‌ ‌Kenya‌ ‌because‌ ‌it‌ ‌empowers‌ ‌trainees‌ ‌for‌ ‌job‌ ‌creation‌.

Yet‌ ‌a‌ ‌wholesome‌ ‌education‌ ‌must‌ ‌go‌ ‌beyond‌ ‌the‌ ‌vocational.‌ ‌It‌ ‌must‌ ‌include‌ ‌knowledge‌ ‌in‌ ‌liberal‌ ‌arts‌ ‌which‌ ‌help‌ ‌in‌ ‌broadening‌ ‌the‌ ‌minds‌ ‌of‌ ‌students‌ ‌so‌ ‌they‌ ‌may‌ ‌adopt‌ ‌to‌ ‌innovations‌ ‌and‌ ‌changes.‌ ‌ ‌

David‌ ‌Omwoyo‌ ‌is CEO, Media Council of Kenya.

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