What does a journalist do? 270 bright 13-year olds couldn’t answer. Problem!

And what about a writer I said. They knew the answer, but how’s this for transitive logic. A teacher, teaches, a writer writes and a journalist? Their confidence plummeted.“Journalisise” I said mockingly to help out. The joke fell flat.

It’s careers week for 270 year 8, 12-13 year olds in UK nomenclature and they’re feeling their way, “beyond their next meal” says their teacher tongue in cheek.

I’m at one of most successful secondary schools on the south outskirts of London and parent governor of a very good school in a neighbouring borough.

It would be unfair to name them as my agreement was to talk about journalism rather than to report on their mannerisms, but I see lllustrative broader courserary points worth sharing.

More questions follow:

At this point if I was in control of a task force from industry or academia I know what I would do next? The issue though is how young is not knowing any of the above OK?, and so what if no one knows what a journalist does?

I tell my captive audience, I trained to become a pharmacists — with a degree in chemistry and maths. In Interstellar, the world is atrophying. What they need are more farmers, not engineers. Do we really need any more journalists?

Some time every year, the BBC, which from my straw poll clearly has brand loyalty will commence school reporting week. Young people will be taught the workflow of reportage, such as what is news? Finding News and news gathering news. It’s a start! Elsewhere in Masters programmes students from different degree pathways will opt to study journalism over a year in the UK, and two years in the US and Canada

In his book News -A User Manual Alain de Botton laments how we are taught to decode Othello, but not the New York Post. We eulogise around greater painters use of colours, but don’t stop for a minute to think how celebrity photos in the Daily Mail are shaping our perception.

He adds:

For all their talk of education, modern societies neglect to examine by far the most influential means by which their population are educated. Whatever happens in our classrooms, the more potent and ongoing kind of education takes place on the airwaves and on our screen.

And that’s the compound problem. The flow of information, its interpretation, which at best has been tolerated through journalism programmes set up from the 1970s is under huge stress. Television journalism which confines itself to a set of conventions often can’t cope with the complexities of global politics, let alone a post-truth world as mapped out in Ed Madison’s book: Reimagining Journalism in a Post-Truth World

Hence what then to a career in journalism?

  • Yes make young people aware -the school’s programme is to be applauded
  • Liaise with academics and industry to speak at secondary schools
  • Reform the current offerings to exploring meaning making that creates at am impressionable age biases and prejudices?
  • And what else? Please leave a comment

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