Model curricula for journalism education: a compendium of new syllabi

This publication builds on the original UNESCO Model Curricula developed in 2007 and adapted, since then, in over 60 countries. The ten new specialized syllabi on journalism education fill the gap for specialized literacies required by journalism educators to respond to new challenges. Such specialized journalistic literacies include those relating to media sustainability, data mining, intercultural dialogue, global communication, humanitarian crisis, human trafficking, community participation, science and bioethics, as well as gender inequality.

Whereas the original Model Curricula focused on developing countries and emerging democracies, these new syllabi are relevant to all democratic societies in which journalism education is an important part of national efforts at promoting free, independent and pluralistic media development. An added value of these new syllabi consists in the use of globally inclusive sources of references, increased focus on online resources and gender-sensitivity.

This compendium of new syllabi represents UNESCO’s strategic response to the question: How can journalism education continue to renew itself? These questions are framed in an increasingly complex social, political and economic context. In the aftermath of the 2008 global economic and financial crisis, journalism faced its most trying moment, especially in the developed world. And so did journalism education, posing challenges for the future.

The development of the UNESCO Model Curricula is an attempt by UNESCO to set standards based on good practice internationally. The effort derives from a conviction that professional journalistic standards are essential to a media system that can foster democracy, dialogue and development. By improving the quality of journalism education, UNESCO believes that both journalism educators and students stand a better chance of influencing journalistic production at the news-institutional level. In turn, newsrooms that are staffed by well-trained and critically minded journalists are likely to positively influence the processes of democracy and development in their societies, especially in the developing world. A quality journalism education is a guarantor not only of democracy and development, but also of press freedom itself.

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