When I moved from being a journalist to become a journalism educator twenty years ago, I found that universities did not regard journalism as research. Instead, they recognised academics who wrote about journalism, even if their knowledge of the industry was scanty, misguided, or in some cases, just hostile.
I realised that I had to put my experience as a reporter for a prestigious broadcaster behind me and concentrate on publishing stylised articles for small circulation academic journals. I learned to play a new game. I completed a PhD, spoke at academic conferences and established an online journal. I became a Chair Professor and started supervising PhD students of my own.
In the meantime, my colleagues established and developed the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism to critique the industry and provide training. The Australian Journalism Review was refined and expanded to become a first rate academic journal.
Subtle discrimination against journalism educators persisted. They found it difficult to win Australian Research Council (ARC) grants, discovering that previous success was a key criteria for winning.
But people were asking what's the value of spending all this government money (apart from pleasing the research bureaucracy) if outcomes didn't contribute to more informed teaching or better industry practices?
Politicians were asking similar questions. In 2008, the Australian government approved the Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) Initiative to establish a new research quality and evaluation system.
ERA will recogise journalism as research. But journalism educators will still have to play the game, by ensuring their material is presented in ARC accepted forms and demanding that their universities include it in the portfolios presented to the ARC.
The future of journalism research in Australia;
Addressing the 2010 ERA round.
If you are an academic, a researcher or a staffer involved in
journalism (1903) research, you need to attend this one day
conference. It will provide a detailed briefing by the Australian
Research Council on how ERA will impact on you and your university.
There will be opportunities to ask questions, consider how other
researchers are faring and discuss an agreed research strategy.
Date: Friday 19.2.10
Conference manager: Australian Centre for Independent Journalism
0900/0930 Welcome. The journalism discipline in the academy
1000/1200 What ERA means for journalism research. A briefing and
information session presented by Australian Research Council ERA
1300/1400 Successful research models (panel)
1400/1500 Defining a research strategy (workshop)
This conference has been endorsed by:
Professor Emeritus Alan Knight
Professor Wendy Bacon, ACIJ Director
Associate Professor Anne Dunn, President, Journalism Education Association
Professor Ian Richards, Editor, Australian Journalism Review