Welcome to the 2014 JERAA Conference at UTS, Sydney
For many years the annual journalism education conference has been an opportunity at the end of a long year of teaching, marking and helping students get jobs to gather and compare notes on classroom experiences (“Why don’t journalism students read much journalism?”) and the opaque world of academic institutional politics (“Why am I drowning in acronym soup? Is ERA just the new RQF?”). The end of year setting released a certain amount of steam, whether in so-called media wars peppered with the salty language of newsrooms or the unseemly sight of middle-aged men at conference dinners getting out their inner Travolta or, worse, skinny dipping in the warmer northern waters. Fortunately, the latter occurred before the Media diary deemed such matters newsworthy.
This year the association changed its name to the Journalism Education and Research Association of Australia which means of course that we are now all grown up. Few among us would want our annual gathering to become a funereal affair, but the program that conference convenor, Jenna Price, and her team at the University of Technology in Sydney, have assembled is an excellent showcase of what journalism academia has become in 2014. It is brimful with high profile, thought-leading international keynote speakers, local researchers producing ground-breaking books and winning Australian Research Council grants, and newsroom leaders and prize-winning practitioners committed to their industry’s future. Nobody doubts the challenges facing the media industry or its knock-on effects on the employment of graduates into cadetships, but this year’s program fairly crackles with the energy of new ideas, challenges to received wisdom and reports from the field about experiments in journalism.
The business of media and the activity of journalism are in transition; they’ve been that way for more than a decade and will be so probably for another. The evidence of the conference program is that those presenting here know that, embrace it and are striding thigh-deep into the waters formerly known as the rivers of gold. Journalism academia may be a daunting place – I’m not even going to contemplate here the future of higher education in this country – but it is also a thrilling place to be. So, welcome to the 2014 JERAA conference. Give thanks to UTS, especially Jenna Price and her team, and dive in to four days of sharing, talking, debating, eating, drinking, dancing if you will, and skinny-dipping if you must. But don’t expect me to be there holding a towel for you.
Prof Matthew Ricketson
JERAA 2014 conference at UTS streamed sessions now online