An interview with Mark Deuze

Interview with: Mark Deuze, Professor at University of Amsterdam, Department of Media Studies

Interviewd by: Auli Harju, Researcher at UTA, Finland

Interview via Skype 4 November.2014

1. Digital journalism should be taught as a cultural mindset, not as tools (based on Deuze’s experiences in the graduate program in journalism at the University of Amsterdam).

  • Traditionally, journalism education is very medium-dependent, but in the programme, the first half is based on teaching by medium type; after that it gets more integrated.
  • Teaching is project-based and teamwork-based.
  • Teaching is based on collaboration with people from different backgrounds (also coders, programmers, information designers, data visualists) and also on teaching students to work in teams of between three and four people.
  • Digital education is partly experimental and pioneering, but not too much; teaching is also grounded in the everyday reality of journalism practice. At the same time, however, students should be taught open-mindedness and what journalism can be like, so it will be easy for them to adapt to the change — for journalism is constantly changing. They should be taught how to rise above the routine, if needed.

2. Theoretical thinking

  • This is included in journalism education through courses of journalism theory and journalism studies. Students have to write a thesis, and they also do research.
  • In the skills courses, theoretical thinking comes into the picture in specific levels of reflection. There is a meta-perspective on what they are doing.

3. The profile of the journalism education in the programme

  • The students are trained to work in qualitative magazines and to do investigative journalism, not journalism in general or local journalism.

4. Visiting lecturers and teachers

  • There are 20–25 people, a fairly stable group of professionals, who visit courses and come in to teach, either lectures or whole courses. Also, new talents are sought to join the visiting teacher crew.

5. Student selection and alumni

  • The intake is 30 students (100–150 applicants). Selection is based on interviews, and professional journalists are included in the selection committee.
  • The background of applicants is irrelevant, but it is appreciated if the students have studied something other than communication studies, for instance, law, anthropology, political science etc. This gives them a broad perspective.
  • The students are expected to have a high profile in social media. The students, staff and alumni belong to a closed LinkedIn group.

6. A good practice to implement

  • As an assignment, teams of students do an investigative journalism report in 10 weeks. They do their investigation and also plan an innovative way to tell the story, a design for the journalistic case. Then the editors of the main Dutch quality news organizations are invited to listen to the students pitch their ideas to them, and the editors acquire the rights to buy the stories.
  • The students not only work for the school but for real, but they get to do actual journalistic stories with the resources of the news organizations that have bought the stories. This teaches the students to think creatively and innovatively and do the serious work of investigative reporting with the technical assistance of the news organization professionals.