Media Literacy Development At Journalist Students At The Modern Stage

Abstract

Modern journalism is undergoing changes in the context of functional role status, principles and values, culture, and professional education. Today, journalists, in addition to traditional skills for performing journalistic activities, require specific skills that are characteristic of the post-truth era, first of all, media literacy. The authors pose a problem - future journalists lack sufficient (professional) media literacy due to the predominance of entertaining and destructive models of journalism in Russia, as well as the lack of a system of teaching media literacy in modern conditions. The authors set a goal - to analyze the current state of the profession of journalism, to present methods and technologies for the formation and development of media literacy, where media education plays a key role in their formation. The authors come to the following conclusions: in modern journalism, news journalists fade into the background, authors working in analytical and narrative journalism are in demand. The principles and values of the profession remain unchanged under the influence of information and communication technologies. Vocational education as a factor in ensuring the status quo of a profession in the modern world is not mandatory. In modern Russia, models of entertaining and destructive journalism predominate, which is reflected in the content of mass media texts and media consumption habits. The authors believe that a number of methods can be used in the teaching of journalism that will contribute to the development of media literacy among future journalists.

Keywords: Developing journalismjournalistic educationmediamedia culturemedia educationmedia literacy

Introduction

Modern journalistic education should be focused on the formation of media literacy skills. To identify and describe these skills, we will rely on three journalism groups described in the monograph “Typology of the Modern Russian Press” - developmental, entertaining, and destructive (destructive) (Grabelnikov, 2018, p. 115-137). The profession of journalism will be analyzed in the following logic: functional role status, principles and values, culture and ideology, professional education as a factor in ensuring the status quo of the profession.

Based on the definition of Vartanova and Zasursky (2003), by media education we mean the process of training student journalists to study the organization of the media, their essence, function and typology; as well as the development of media creation skills (creation, editing of texts and programs for the media) for active participation in media culture. Taking the term “media literacy” as proposed by Kazakov (2017, p. 82-85), we take into account that it refers primarily to future journalists, and not to information recipients. By the term, we mean the availability of special higher education; critical thinking skills when working, evaluating and analyzing sources of information and texts of other media. In addition, it is the ability to verify the information received and navigate its flows and sources quickly and without compromising on quality. Then we mean knowledge of the main methods of conveying to the audience information that reflects different points of view on the event, not overloaded with rhetorical devices and expressive means of the language, in order to prevent the manipulation of source data, numbers and statements.

Problem Statement

Students in the Journalism direction lack sufficient (professional) media literacy due to the prevailing entertaining and destructive model of journalism in Russia, and due to the lack of a systematic model of teaching in modern conditions.

Research Questions

The authors pose the following questions, the answers to which will determine the vector of development and improvement of media education:

3.1. How has the profession of a journalist changed?

3.2. What journalism patterns prevail at the present stage?

3.3. What type of journalism contributes to the development of media literacy?

3.4. What areas in the training of student journalists will contribute to the formation of media literacy?

Purpose of the Study

To analyze the current state of the profession of journalism, to present methods and technologies for the formation and development of media literacy, where media education plays a key role in their formation.

Research Methods

In the process of working on the article, a number of scientific methods were used: historical, systemic, integrated, comparative, which helped to conduct a thorough analysis of the topic under study.

Findings

The development of information media literacy of future journalists and media culture in general is one of the most important tasks of modern journalistic education. In addition to practice-oriented training, which is an expression of the competency-based approach, it is necessary to consider the issue of educational approaches to the development of media literacy, which is one of the key competencies of modern journalists. The logic of reflection in the article will be as follows: from changes in the profession to teaching practices.

Functional role status of the profession

Features of journalism as a profession are determined with the functional-role nature of professional activity and the individual and personality characteristics of journalists. Editorial work and journalistic (reporting) activities are part of the profession, which can be understood as a self-organizing social system, through which media representatives interact and in which diverse types of activities are interdependent (advertising, marketing, design, programming, publishing and distribution) (Deuze & Witsche, 2018).

According to Drok (2019), due to the fact that over the past few years new types of journalism have appeared (the author calls public, involved, journalism of complicity, interactive, constructive, problem-oriented, citizen journalism, slow journalism, conflict journalism, etc.) , it is necessary to review the culture of a journalist.

Referring to Deuze and Witsche (2018) notes that journalism is not a stable, frozen phenomenon, but a constantly changing profession, the features of which depend on the context in which it resides. One can note the constant perception of journalism as a profession responsible and contributing to the development of a democratic society. At the same time, the roles of a journalist can be different as news translator, information filter, producer of meanings, storyteller, providing the context of the event. In general, you can see the division into news and analytical journalism. Despite the fact that the role of news journalists is exaggerating and is gradually shifting to algorithms, the role of analytical journalists and storytellers is increasing.

Principles and values of the profession, culture and ideology

The responsibility and obligation to select news, filter information and provide the context of the event is based on the fundamental principles of journalism adopted by the international journalistic community. The principles form the basis of national codes of ethics.

Gillmor (2004) believes that the values of journalism remain unchanged, including accuracy and truthfulness, but journalists to some extent remain “gatekeepers”, maintaining discussions and providing context is from now on as meaningful as collecting and presenting facts. He believes that the basic principles of quality journalism are careful work with facts, accuracy, curiosity, independence and openness. And he adds: “... if our students do not understand and value these principles, from what [teachers - approx. ed.] we do, it will not matter” (Ibid, p. 816). Understanding the profession of a journalist includes a special culture, the ideology of the profession (principles) and formal requirements (professional standards) for the implementation of this activity. The culture of a journalist can be considered in the following aspects: 1) normative and declarative (what journalists should know and how to act); 2) cognitive (what journalists know); 3) applied (what journalists do really and how they act in accordance with their knowledge, skills, principles, etc.); 4) motivational-value (what journalists think about what they should do) (Hanitzsch & Vos, 2017).

Vocational education as a factor in ensuring the status quo of the profession

The development of professional journalism education in Russia began after 1917, when there was a conscious need for journalists writing for the working class ( Vartanova & Lukina, 2017). In 1921, the Institute of Journalism was formed in Moscow, where they taught reporter skills. Editors were trained in special schools of the Communist Party. In the mid-1950s, journalism departments were formed at the faculties of philology at major universities. The philological component, including the study of Russian and foreign literature, Russian and foreign languages has become the fundamental basis of national journalistic education. Shortly before the collapse of the USSR, journalism programs began to be revised taking into account global trends in the profession and pedagogical science. In the 1990s in Russian state and private universities began to open faculties, departments and create departments of journalism. People from the profession came to education who sometimes did not have a professional education, but had practical experience. In 2010, higher education in the Russian Federation began to be rebuilt according to the Bologna system, which involves two levels of education.

Each new discussion about the profession casts doubt on the established notions of the need and essence of vocational education. Until recently, the journalists’ fulfillment of professional duties was connected with the official adoption of the editorial staff. The editors were the main form of organization of journalistic activities throughout the XX century. As Deuze and Witsche ( 2018) notes, this system was designed to stabilize the media industry and support the need for vocational education. The editorial office was the place that constituted the identity "I am a journalist". In modern reality, the boundaries of professions are blurred; some activities no longer need to maintain the status quo.

Three areas of journalism in Russia

According to the typology of the media based on the impact on the audience proposed by Grabelnikov ( 2019), in modern Russia, the model of entertainment journalism prevails (p. 85), the purpose of which is to distract the population from current socio-economic problems. Initially, in Russia there was a developing model, in favor of which the fact that the first publishers of newspapers and magazines in the XVIII century were scientists.

The choice of media in the late XX - early XXI centuries in favor of an entertainment model can be explained with the influence of a consumer-oriented economy. Entertaining topics attract major advertisers and sponsors. Publications of the tabloid-type tabloid and TV guides, celebrity magazines, fashionable women’s and Lifestyle magazines are entertaining in nature, have consumer-style, and form a certain loyalty to brands, mainly Western ones.

The same situation has developed on Russian television, where entertainment TV programs and shows dominate - “Dance Revolution”, “Exactly Same”, “Three Chords”, “How about we do it all together”, “Mask” and others. Television rather distracts the audience from the pressing problems in the country, helps to reduce the intellectual level of the audience. The programs use clip editing to make it easy for viewers to perceive information. The traditional genres of socio-political broadcasting itself - news, analytics, documentaries - on channels, often transform into infotainment, or, losing signs of “quality”, acquire signs of “yellowness” - this only confirms the general trend noted by researchers of modern media ( Vartanova & Fomicheva, 2010, p. 119-120).

Today, it is necessary to educate viewers and future journalists of critical thinking, the ability to choose useful, developing content, analyze, critically evaluate, filter information from different sources, and distinguish truthful information from fabricated information. This is the essence of media education.

Students, brought up on entertainment and influenced by destructive journalism, reproduce these models in educational publications. When teachers comment and recommend adjusting topics in the direction of socio-political and socially significant information, some students refer to the information and entertainment content of popular media.

To a lesser extent in modern Russia, developing journalism is presented, which contributes to an active knowledge of the world by the younger generation, its self-development and self-improvement, where in the first place is the idea of serving society, the maximum usefulness for society ( Gavrov & Nikandrov, 2008).

We connect the mission of journalism with the concept of “socialization”. According to the dictionary of sociology, this is the process of assimilating behavioral patterns, psychological attitudes, social norms and values, knowledge, skills that allow you to successfully function in society ( Gvishiani & Lapin, 1988). Journalism and the media, although they relate to secondary socialization, intensively influence an individual throughout his life.

After analyzing the scientific literature and interpreting our own pedagogical experience, we offer the following directions for the development of media literacy among future journalists.

1. Verification and fact checking. One of the fundamental principles of a journalist is to verify information. By verification, Sokolova ( 2018) means “the refinement of information (correct writing of the position and organization); fact checking is checking the reliability of facts and information (statistical data, quotes and statements), the search for distortions” (p. 157). The priority of the speed of publication of information over the quality and reliability, short deadlines for preparing the material make the journalist neglect a thorough verification of the information. Assignments to verify information, search for and identify fakes should be introduced into practice-oriented disciplines using various methods, including online tools.

2. Comparison of general and alternative sources of information - both Russian and foreign. This is necessary for the formation of one’s own opinion, the creation of material devoid of subjectivity, it is necessary to take into account the opposite points of view. When comparing, it is worth paying attention to the agenda, the general tone of presentation, the facts presented, to language tools, and techniques, to critically evaluate the composition of experts and commentators, to study the level of their competence - previous interviews and statements, published scientific papers, to critically evaluate their research methods. It is also recommended that researchers check the author of the publication, his contacts, pay attention to the number of reprints, the presence of direct links to the original source of the message ( Dorofeeva, 2019).

3. Fake news researchers recommend working with scientific publications and websites, finding the source of a message or statement is also seen as a key skill for a future journalist ( Zuykina & Sokolova, 2019, p. 84).

4. The study of methods and techniques of propaganda and manipulation in the context of post-truth. As Kazakov ( 2019) notes:

it is necessary to take account of the media outlet we get information from, i.e. to what extent it is known, authoritative, competent, and reliable. Secondly, everyone should understand that one of the key functions of a heading is to grab reader’s attention. Therefore, the narratives of the news and the headline do not necessarily match up. (p. 501)

5. A study of journalistic codes of ethics and the foundations of Russian legislation governing the media (for example, the law on fake news ( Sukhodolov & Bychkova, 2017) and on insulting the authorities, analysis of situations with criminal cases against journalists).

6. According to Grabelnikov ( 2019), for the development of media literacy skills, attention should be paid to training students to correctly and clearly formulate and ask questions about the subject or facts of their materials.

These recommendations can be implemented both at seminars (for example, discussion of the information agenda of Russian and foreign media, subsequent analysis of the language tools and techniques used, search for the source of controversial or questionable information), in lectures or in the form of practical tasks. (For example, compare media coverage of Russia, US and France meetings of state leaders, the task is to conduct a journalistic investigation using foreign media, identify and describe fake news, identify concrete manipulation techniques with specific examples).

Conclusion

Journalism is perceived as a profession responsible and contributing to the development of a democratic society. At the same time, the roles of a journalist can be different as news translator, information filter, producer of meanings, storyteller, providing the context of the event. In general, you can see the division into news and analytical journalism. Despite the fact that the role of news journalists is exaggerating and is gradually shifting to algorithms, the role of analytical journalists and storytellers is increasing.

From an analysis of the literature on journalistic education, we can conclude there is a gap between the image of a professional journalist with a certain set of competencies and a real graduate with specific knowledge and skills, professional values and principles that a student acquires at the university. Vocational education is one of the possibilities of professional socialization and identification of a person, self-determination in the profession. Developing, high-quality journalism is seen by us as a priority and model for training future journalists. This model corresponds to three centuries of history and traditions of national journalism, meets the needs of the audience in education and self-knowledge. This model will have a positive impact on the journalists themselves - developing their audience; they will develop and improve themselves, increasing their authority and respect for the profession and the transmitted information. Taking the developing model of journalism as a basis, when teaching media literacy, you can focus on creating useful and developing content for the audience, developing students' professional habits based on research of preferences, ratings and opinion polls of audiences. But you cannot focus on subjective preferences; compliance with the norms and rules of the Russian language (analysis of frequent stylistic and semantic errors) and the desire to avoid language manipulations and speech manipulation. We emphasize the importance of knowledge of journalistic ethics (with analysis and discussion of the behavior of famous journalists) with an emphasis on the personal responsibility of the future journalist, which may affect his reputation, relationships in the team and further employment.

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Publisher

European Publisher

First Online

27.05.2021

Doi

10.15405/epsbs.2021.05.02.131

Online ISSN

2357-1330