Visiting faculty testimonial: Hans Henrik Holm

Read about Hans Henrik Holm's scholarship to Mundus Journalism partner university UC Berkeley, from January to June 2015.

Professor Emeritus Hans Henrik Holm, Danish School of Media and Journalism

As Head of the Board of Studies it was my distinct pleasure to be able to spend the spring semester at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Berkeley in addition to being one of the premiere graduate schools of Journalism in the USA is also a long-term overseas/global partner for the Mundus Journalism degree.

This cooperation has expressed itself in numerous visits of faculty from Berkeley at the European Mundus Journalism partners. In addition a number of students from the program have spent the spring semester at Berkeley as part of their Mundus degree. Finally a number of faculty members from European schools have visited Berkeley for mutual inspiration talks, guest lectures and partnership interaction.

The purpose of my stay was to further the links between our schools and help plan for how to further cooperation. To this end I have met with a large number of the teachers on the Berkeley staff. We have discussed mutual perceptions of the challenges facing the journalism and media word. We have shared our different approaches as to how to face them.

We obviously need to prepare the students for a work world, where journalism is morphing into other media and other types of technology. But how do we do this? Is more teaching of long form journalism what is required? Should we introduce computer coding or entrepreneurial journalism into the curricula? Should we instead focus on academic reflection and academic content and do less skills and tools?

Though these discussions have not produced clear answers, they have been very helpful in highlighting the similarity of the challenges that journalism and media programs face around the world.

Situated as it is in the Bay Area, Berkeley is a unique platform for engaging with the wider media and technology base located here. I have thus meet and guest lectured at San Francisco State University, met with teachers and students there; met with people from the technology world, the PR industry, the education NGO world and others.

From these interactions, meetings and talks I take away a number of points:

The development of the sharing economy - epitomized in developments like the companies Uber and Air B n B - is also of relevance to the world of journalism and media. Increasingly media is being shared through Facebook or other types of media. This is demonstrated in the dissemination of not just news stories about what is happening, but also in the growing utilizing of long form analytical pieces of journalism. Pod casts and documentaries are being spread and utilized through these new mechanisms, so much so that some see a revival of these classical forms of journalism as being a characteristic of the era.

The gradual decline of normal journalism jobs in legacy media is continuing and there is no prospect of them returning or even of us having reached the bottom yet. The advertising attracted to print media is still proportionally skewed when compared to the amount of audience that these media can attract. In short, print still gets more advertising than audience numbers justify. It does not take much predictive power to see that the financial basis for legacy media will continue to erode.

However interests in pursuing journalism, as an education, is still high. Numbers at journalism programs in the Bay Area are still large and Berkeley is even thinking of opening up and undergraduate program in journalism to be taught in the summer.

When we look at the prospects for graduates from elite programs like Berkeley and the Mundus Journalism Masters they seem to be good. The capability of these graduates and their determination to work in the field, has kept unemployment low. However it does require student determination and willingness to create your own opportunities rather then wait to be recruited. Just 10 years ago recruiters would line the halls of the J School in Berkeley to snap up the graduates before they left the program. These days there are no recruiters knocking on the doors. Students have to create their own opportunities.

It is a testament to the quality of the students and their determination that they are so successful finding employment in the new world of journalism and media.

In our joint exploration of these challenges it is evident how much mutual benefit there is for both the Mundus program and for the program in Berkeley. As we look forward to creating a new Mundus version 3 in the next coupe of years, these mutual interests will serve us well as a foundation for continued collaboration.