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AUSTRALIA: Staff to meet over plan to shut top UQ journalism school

Journalism students at the University of Queensland seen here reporting from Vietnam. Image: UQ

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Item: 8644

BRISBANE (Pacific Media Watch / Australian Broadcasting Corporation): Staff in the 80-year-old school of journalism at the University of Queensland, Australia, will meet their new dean today to discuss his controversial proposal to dismantle the school.

ABC journalist Matt Wordsworth reported on a leaked document authored by the faculty's executive dean, Professor Tim Dunne, which purportedly proposes to disband the journalism school - one of the best in Australia - and merge its staff into the school of English, Media Studies and Art history within seven months on the grounds that "demand for journalism is declining globally".

Professor Dunne's paper says "demand for journalism is declining globally", that not all staff will be absorbed into other schools and so there are likely to be redundancies among the journalism staff.

"There is suspicion among staff the current crop of students will be the last to be offered an undergraduate degree in journalism, with the university more interested in research work that brings in outside funding," Wordsworth reported.

In the document, Professor Dunne says funding per student will drop from $11,790 per student this year to $6,021 per student by 2016.

Assistant Professor Dr Glen Fuller of the University of Canberra wrote on his blog in reply that Professor Dunne "presents a bleak picture for journalism, but it is not entirely correct".

Dr Fuller says Fairfax and News Corp, which have been laying off journalists, are not the only places where journalists can find employment.

Journalism jobs have grown "10 times the average over last two years" and there will be between 5000 to 10,000 new positions available - mainly in occupations like blogger, critic, editorial assistant and essayist.

"More media content (writing, filming, recording, producing, etc.) is created and distributed now than at any other point in history," says Dr Fuller.

'Correction' statement in reply to the ABC by UQ

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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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