Analysing representations of media studies in the UK press

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Transcript Analysing representations of media studies in the UK press

Trial by Media:
The Case For and Against
Media Studies in the UK Press
Dr Dan Laughey
School of Cultural Studies
Leeds Metropolitan University
[email protected]
 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
 Rudimentary content analysis of ‘all results’
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
The Cambridge A-Level blacklist
Business studies
Art and Design
Communication studies
Drama/Theatre studies
Home economics
Leisure studies
Media studies
Sports studies
Travel and Tourism
Critics and Defenders
 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,
 Media studies
Feldman, Ellis)
 Some politicians (Boris
Johnson, Estelle
Morris, Phil Willis)
 Some journalists (inc
those with media
 Think-tanks (Adam
Smith Institute)
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’
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
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
Points of defence (2)
 Media studies is relevant to (young)
people’s 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
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)