Croatia: Investigative journalism course got ‘canceled’ on Faculty of Political Science study programme
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Translation: Fairpress
Growing up as a future journalist in a new media environemnt gets more difficult day by day. Challenges that young journalists encounter have origin in changed media values, ownership structures and interference of politicians trying to control media outlets.

Journalism students on Faculty of Political Science get discouraged within their freshmen year about job opportunities after finishing their study, so, after they’ve been served the naked truth about getting a job, great majority of them chooses Public relations as a major on their third year. Not to be fooled, 2/3 of students get into journalism beacuse they are attracted to public relations or, as one of my colleagues said ‘she got into journalism because she wants to be famous’.  Not really sure why would anyone bother to pass 40+ exams when cybersphere can make you instant famous within hours. Those who decided to study journalism driven by their ambition to change the world, encountered many difficulties. High amount of unnecessary collegiums they ought to pass during semesteres and lack of job opportunities, are only some of them.

Investigative journalism is a course avaliable to second year, or fourth semester students on undergraduate studies on Faculty of Political Science in Zagreb. It is an optional course, yet it is one of those that are first to be filled with students, or, now  it is better to use past tense –  it used to be among that kind of courses. It syllabus states:

The aim of the course is to acquaint students with the basics of investigative journalism with the theoretical and practical aspects, including the specifics of investigative journalism in various media (print, radio, TV, web)…

Altough practical experience students get by studying journalism is not worth mentioning, this course gave students a glance of hope and faith in real journalism by analysing some of the most famous examples of investigative journalism in domestic and international media practice.

Course has alegedly been removed in this academic year, altough, while researching and browsing trough official notifications there wasn’t a single note or announcement on Notice board which could verify this information. Information coming from several undergraduate students says differently. Second year states that course was not available for them to choose among other optional courses in this academic year, which was confirmed by undergradutes from class 12/2013, who were the last one to have studied this course. Explanation that was given to them back then was that professor Glavaš, who lead the course, has given an opportunity to work in Belgrade, which he had

accepted, which then led to the fact that faculty wasn’t able to find suitable substitute, and, as added, financial funds are not big enough to cover the course so it will be removed from official Plan and programme.

Dean, Lidija Kos-Stanišić of Faculty of Political Science replied, giving some clarification to this matter:

Course is not removed for good, it has been frozen. This means that it is not running for some objective reasons. It has been in this year’s programme, but, due to the student complaints on professor Glavaš’s work,  we ended cooperation with him, and therefore course could not be performed.’  Not even next year’s programme will contain the course on investigative journalism beacuse ‘ the Faculty does not have it’s own professors who would carry out teaching, nor finances to pay an associate ‘, says dean Kos-Stanišić, expressing hope that the course could re-run after personnel reinforcements.

Taking in consider both justifications brings out more concerns about future generations of journalists. Is it sad to hear a justification of no suitable substitute which approves a measurment of removing the course? Or is it worse to hear that managment does not dispose with enough funds to keep the course running? Does latter implie how little valued is area of investigative journalism by its own proffesion? And, the most important question; Were all consequences for students considered? Would it be rushing to conclusion if we say that this indicates the doom of real, facts supported, probing journalism? Yes, it probably would.

Nonetheless, removing or freezing, as dean Kos-Stanišić said, Investigative journalism course, could have serious consequences for future journalism. We witness already changed new media values where arresting Justin Bieber is more important than NSA news or Kim Kardashian wedding is bigger news than Ukraine being on a verge of a civil war. News nowadays has to be fast, short, tempting and entertaining, in one word – sensational. Not allowing students insight into what real journalism should be, might bring future journalism students to evolve under wrong values. If daily reporters report mainly what officials or institutions say, as well as other people’s responses to what has been previously said, who will be there to ask the questions WHY and HOW?

Journalism, once known as a fourth estate, is experiencing a serious lack of professional practice which leads to journalists that are capable of writing an article only because their diploma says so.

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