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AUSTRALIA: JERAA slams media attack on Sydney University academic

Senior journalism lecturer Dr Fiona Martin ... JERAA asks: “Are teaching spaces public or private spaces?" Image: Honi Soit

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Item: 10208

MELBOURNE: (JERAA/Pacific Media Watch): The Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia, the peak body for journalism academics, supports the rights of educators to academic independence when they engage in teaching, research and community service.

JERAA trusts in the professionalism of academics to educate students and society about journalism.

In particular, JERAA supports Dr Fiona Martin, of Sydney University, whose teaching has been attacked this week.

Journalism education prepares people to work in the news media and related industries, including mainstream, alternative and emerging media. An important element of this role is to prepare students to think critically about society in general, which includes the media industries.

Reporting this week in The Daily Telegraph and The Australian about the content of lectures in Sydney University’s undergraduate media and communication course raises questions about what happens within teaching spaces in universities. This is an issue central to JERAA’s mission.

JERAA president Professor Matthew Ricketson asks: “Are teaching spaces public or private spaces? Should they be open automatically to journalists to sit in on lectures and classes?

“Should lecturers and students regard anything that is said in lectures and classes as the equivalent of an on-the-record statement for publication?

“Do the dynamics of a classroom – where provocative and robust debate among and between students and teachers is necessarily encouraged – mean that some confidentiality, or at least circumspection, is needed?”

Professor Ricketson said with the changing digital media landscape these were not simple issues, and nor did they appear to be settled at present.

Earlier generations of academics did not need to think about a media outlet reporting the contents of their lectures, but in the digital media age the contents of lectures could be communicated quickly and widely by students or anyone else accessing the lecture material.

“Free speech is central to a democratic society,” Professor Ricketson said, “but academic freedom is also important, and so too is reporting that aims to inform and enlighten rather than scandalmonger.”

- University of Sydney stands by uni lecturer

- 'Out of context': USyd lecturer responds to News Corp hit piece

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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