Universities tackle print media slump
Journalism courses losing popularity
Journalism schools need to adapt and undergo fundamental shifts in how courses are taught in order to survive in the age of social media platforms and technology or they will face steadily declining enrolments, experts say.
Media academic Mana Treelayapewat said he has noticed a significant decrease in the number of Thai university students studying journalism over the past few years because students have a picture of journalism as a traditional media platform like newspapers and magazines which they are not familiar with.
"In recent years the number of newspapers and magazines slated for closure, bankruptcy or severe cutbacks has risen, so I'm not surprised why students these days rarely choose journalism as their major," the dean at the school of communication arts at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce said.
Mr Mana said the same trend can also be seen in some broadcasting schools as the TV industry in Thailand has faced a struggle to maintain revenues and profitability.
Peerachai Kerdsin, dean at the school of communication arts at Bangkok University, said journalism and broadcasting programmes at the university will merge into one department for the next academic year to keep pace with new social trends and attract more students.
He said there was a recent false report that Bangkok University will shut down its journalism programme permanently.
"Journalism is still important, but we need to modernise and reinvent our curriculum to keep it up to date,'' he said.
Mr Mana said he did not think journalism schools will be forced to shut down because the concept of journalism is not limited to just print media, but rather it is to provide citizens with the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies and their governments via any platform.
Therefore, he believes quality journalism, of the kind that pursues truth and informs the public will always be in demand.
"The decline of print doesn't mean the end of journalism, but we will need to focus more on digital platforms to match reader behaviour nowadays,'' he said.
Mr Mana said what journalism schools need to do is to adapt and reform themselves by undergoing fundamental shifts in how their courses are taught because the next generation of graduates must be able to work across multiple platforms.
"The word "print" might be removed from university's curricula but the value of journalism will still remain. We cannot keep producing newspaper journalists, but we need to produce content creators. We need to move with the times or else we will not survive,'' he said.
Mr Mana said his school of journalism has already restructured itself two years ago by providing a new "convergent journalism programme" which teaches students to deliver content in any and all media.