Should I study journalism?

Media and journalism courses

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IMM generation. This is how a Berlin cabaret artist described today's generation of students. Regardless of whether you are asked about a course or career goal, the answer from German students is often: »I do something with the media!« So it's no wonder that universities and technical colleges list hundreds of courses that have something to do with media.

From Frauke Lüpke-Narberhaus

Write, write, write ...
Hundreds of courses all over Germany. These can be roughly divided into 9 fields of study: journalism, journalism and communication studies, media studies, media economics, PR / public relations, media technology, multimedia and media informatics, media culture and finally media design.
First of all, a new student should ask himself: In which of these 9 directions should it go?

A media degree does not automatically pave the way to an editorial office. On the contrary. Many newspaper publishers advise against such a degree. Manuel J. Hartung, at the time of his survey, editor-in-chief of the student magazine Zeit Campus, explains why: »Journalism is a craft. Even if many media courses endeavor to be practical - the best way to learn to write is in a local editorial office and later at a journalism school. As a journalist you always think about the media later on anyway. Anyone who is already studying media deprives themselves of a different view of many things - law, history, psychology, medicine, biology, even theology or mathematics give you insights that you cannot get in a media degree. «Hartung, on the other hand, assesses journalism differently. Education. "The universities of Dortmund, Leipzig and Eichstätt have earned a good reputation over the years."

In journalism studies, theory and practice are usually very closely linked. On the one hand, it is about questions that also concern communication and media scientists: What turns a message into a message? How did the media develop? How do media work? On the other hand, it's about journalistic skills.

The University of Dortmund integrates a one-year traineeship into its eight-semester bachelor's degree. At the end of the course, the student is therefore doubly qualified: he can call himself a Bachelor of Arts and an editor within the meaning of the collective agreement. Volunteers are known to be rare, so the study places at the University of Dortmund are in demand and the Numerus Clausus is always at a high level (around 1.5).

Basically, the prospective student must have the necessary talent to be a journalist. To find out, he should do an internship in an editorial office or work as a freelancer before starting his studies. At least that is what many universities assume. Accordingly, journalism students later mostly work in editorial offices - be it print, radio, television or online. Typical fields of work are also public relations, cultural mediation, film production and publishing.

Journalism and Communication Studies

Whether for film, television or online: moving images are increasingly in demand.
The journalism course is about journalistic practice. Journalism and communication studies, on the other hand, are much more theoretical. A freshman studying to be a journalist should be aware of this. "Anyone who wants to start their studies should not only be impressed by the glamor of the media world," emphasizes Christoph Neuberger, professor and managing director of the Institute for Communication Studies at the Westphalian Wilhelms University in Münster. "What about the media?" A career goal in the field of journalism, public relations or advertising can be achieved in several ways. We do not offer an abbreviation, but a sustainable preparation from which you can benefit for your entire professional life. To do this, you have to be prepared to deal with abstract theories, methods and statistics for several semesters. Practice is not neglected with us either - but it is not our top priority. ”It is therefore not surprising that fewer and fewer graduates later work in the press and radio departments. More often they find their jobs in public relations, advertising, online communication as well as market and opinion research.

During their studies, communication scientists are less concerned with direct, so-called face-to-face communication, and more with communication that is conveyed through mass media. The course is divided into different areas, the general part usually goes through all students - with varying degrees of intensity. That means: Theoretical foundations, communication history, media systems and media organization, media effects and reception as well as methods of communication research. Depending on the offer and research focus, students can specialize in the areas of media theory, journalism, PR / public relations and advertising.

The change in the media has accelerated in recent years, explains Neuberger. »Everyone could and can observe this in their everyday life. For communication professions, this means: It is no longer enough to learn a few traditional craft rules, as is done in an internship or in other purely practical training. Innovative action requires more: Anyone who wants to survive in the current media world must be able to reflect on options that have not yet been explored and the imminent risks of new media. Communication scientists are prepared for this. "

Media studies

A media and communication science degree is difficult to distinguish from one another. It is not for nothing that the German Society for Media and Communication Studies (DGPuK) assumes that all courses that deal with the media are one subject. Even if different technical terms are circulating and they are organized differently. That is why the scientific society DGPuK is also striving for a uniform designation.

Media studies courses are mostly practice-related and closely linked to related disciplines. With the MA course in "Interdisciplinary Media Studies", for example, Bielefeld University interlinks four different areas: the Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Studies (text and media production, text technology, media culture, ...), the Faculty of Education (media education, new media and learning, ...) ), the Faculty of Sociology (communication and media, media and society, ...) and the Technical Faculty (media design, image processing, ...).

Media scientists mostly earn their money in jobs similar to communication scientists. In addition, they also take on planning and conceptual functions in media companies or publishing houses and work, for example, as program planners.

Marketing, business management, taxation, finance and investment. All of this is part of the "Media Management" course as offered at the Technical University of Ilmenau. The term »media industry« would not be justified, however, did not media appear in the course of the study. That is why business administration study units are supplemented with media technology and media science: Applied video technology, media history and communication research, for example, are on the schedule.

At least at the TU Ilmenau, the focus is clearly on business administration training - media science training is more of an add-on. The course is also part of the Faculty of Economics. "Accordingly, a first-year student should also have a fundamental interest in business issues and a sound knowledge of mathematics," says Martin Fuchs, who was one of the first students on this course and who helped shape the study and examination regulations.

Like all business economists, students of the media industry work in public and private companies in all sectors, in consulting companies as well as in teaching and research institutions. But what sets them apart from the common business economist is their media-specific additional qualification. That is why the graduates are particularly in demand at TV stations, radio, film, newspapers, online and PR agencies in production, editing and management.

Did the photo succeed?
“Public relations is commissioned communication.” This is what the German Public Relations Society (DPRG) writes on its website. That means: PR is organized communication between a client and the public; a field of work that has grown significantly in recent years and is therefore looking for qualified young people. That is why more and more universities and technical colleges enable students to specialize in PR / public relations within existing courses - such as communication science - or they offer special courses. Like the University of Applied Sciences in Hanover with the BA degree in "Public Relations". An excerpt from the course content: PR basics, PR practice, journalistic basics, media studies, visual communication, communication research and electronic media.

Ulrich Nies, President of the DPRG, advises first-year students who are interested in public relations, but not necessarily, to such a degree: "You should always study according to inclination and not according to tactics." Nevertheless, he also says: "Communication sciences with an empirical focus and Practical offers for communication controlling are an excellent basis for the PR profession. If there is also a special subject, be it Egyptology or business administration, it certainly doesn't hurt. «The DPRG President emphasizes that it is important to establish contact with the communications industry as early as possible. "Repeated internships or freelance work with a few employers are more important to me than the collection of exotic locations or exclusive institutions."

Media technology

No media without technology. There is communication and telecommunications. Sound technology, image technology, printing technology and much more. The degree programs that come together under the heading of media technology are just as diverse. There is, for example, "information and media technology" at the Brandenburg University of Technology in Cottbus. It connects the fields of mathematics, computer science, communication technology and media technology. In addition, the student studies media design, media law, media science and marketing-oriented content. Graduates of this course are later employed by telecommunications companies, Internet service providers or manufacturers of multimedia electronics as well as music and video products.

Students on the BA course in "Technical Editing" at Aalen University usually pursue a different professional goal. They leave the university as technical writers and as such they impart knowledge and technology through operating instructions, for example, or through the insert in the surprise egg and the video for employee training. In this course, students learn math, physics and the like, in addition to journalistic basics. This is sometimes difficult for Thomas Iskra, 23. He studies technical journalism at the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg. "The technical part such as mechanical engineering and physics are difficult and many students have to take the exam several times to pass it." Nevertheless, he is very satisfied with the choice of his course of study. He is sure to fill a niche with his qualifications; because after his studies he was good at both: technology and journalism.

Multimedia and media informatics

Conceptual, design, communicative and creative skills as well as logical thinking. A prospective student who wants to study "Interactive Media" at the Augsburg University of Applied Sciences should bring this with them. Topics of the course: 2D animation, 3D animation, computer games, interactive installation, navigation systems, data management, software development as well as internet and mobile applications.

Creating new communication channels through new technical developments, that is the general goal of this field of study. Multimedia technologies are becoming increasingly important in business, industry, administration and education. For your own homepage, for example. Or in administration, i.e. when searching, sorting and managing media data - after all, certain files should be able to be found in the right place. The technology used is becoming more and more complex. Kai Uwe Barthel, Professor of International Media Informatics at the FHTW Berlin, is therefore certain: "The need for skilled workers will rather increase than decrease." In which areas his students will work later should be answered anew every year, says Barthel. After all, the development in the field of media informatics is rapid. So far it has mainly been universities of applied sciences that train these computer scientists. "The training paths will continue to develop, however," predicts Barthel.

Media culture

The camera is always there.
Writing, letterpress, telegraphy, telephone, photography, television, internet. The media have developed rapidly and influenced their environment - and will continue to do so in the future. The media culture research area examines this process. This can be studied, for example, at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf in the form of a course in media and cultural studies. This is interdisciplinary and therefore various subjects are also involved: For example, art history, philosophy, history, pedagogy and information science. The ultimate goal is always to make the complex relationship between culture and media understandable to the students. At this university, the course is divided into five modules: Communication, Culture, Media, Intercultural Communication, Practice and an elective area. More similar courses can be found here.

In line with this focus, students of media culture can later often be found both in the cultural sector - such as museums and cultural offices - as well as in journalistic professions, PR and public relations work as well as advertising.

Media design

Media designers are first and foremost planners and developers. For example, you design magazines or websites. Because with an increasing number of media offers, their design is more and more important; Media makers, organizations and companies want to clearly distinguish themselves from others with their offer and also create recognition value.

The University of Applied Sciences in Aachen, for example, offers the communication design course. A communication designer, for example, plans and designs pictures and graphics that are about conveying content-related statements, according to the University of Applied Sciences homepage. In Aachen - as at many other technical colleges and universities - they have to prove in an aptitude test that the prospective students are creative enough for such tasks.

Media designers later often work on print media, interactive media such as the Internet, but also film, television and advertising.

After graduation: take responsibility

You need a certain talent for radio moderation - a good voice is only one aspect.
"What is real today is no longer what is real, but what the media portray as real," writes communications scientist Klaus Merten. "I do something with the media" is therefore said quickly and flippantly; It may be forgotten that it means taking responsibility. Journalists are ensnared from many sides: Politicians, companies, organizations want to use the media for their own purposes. Professional public relations workers know tricks that increase the chances of success. One of the tasks of a journalist is to filter which information is of interest to the public. A difficult undertaking.

It is also the job of a journalist to classify social developments and connections and to uncover grievances. It is not for nothing that the media are referred to as the fourth estate in the state. The problem, however, is that investigative - that is, revealing - research is becoming increasingly rare. Critics complain that the focus is no longer on the content, but that investors' pursuit of profit and journalism degenerate into pure business. Journalists are increasingly forced to work quickly and cheaply. Initiatives such as the “Netzwerk Recherche”, but also professional associations such as the dju (German Union of Journalists in ver.di) or the German Association of Journalists (DJV) are trying to counteract this.

In short: the media determine our view of the world. Their relevance is therefore undisputed. Whether designing, observing or influencing - doing something with the media is exciting and responsible - and therefore requires in-depth training.

There are around 500 media courses to choose from. Every course is different and has different priorities. Getting an overview is not easy, but possible. As I said: First, the field of study should be clear, then you should find out more about the individual courses of study at the various universities.And they all have one thing in common: They do something with the media.

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Editor's note: The original version of the article is a few years old, the last updates were made by us on the above date.

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