Creative Destruction, Behavioral Economics, and Journalism Education

TitleCreative Destruction, Behavioral Economics, and Journalism Education
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Russ-Mohl, S.
Affiliation (1st Author)Universita della Svizzera italiana
Section or WGJournalism Research and Education Section
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeJRE T3c
Slot Code (Keyword)JRE T3c
Time of Session14:00-15:30
Session TitleCreative Skills vs. Creative Destruction of Journalism Education Theme V: Generic Studies of Journalism
Submission ID6727

The process of “creative destruction” which has been characterizing journalism in the Western world during the last years has arrived in journalism education: The Internet revolution will foreseeably also turn the traditional “world” of academic teaching upside down. Therefore, it is urgent to take a closer look at the “economics of journalism education”, asking research questions like:- Who is paying the bills of journalism education in different journalism cultures/education systems? Why?- How will journalism education change due to the economics of the Internet?- How should j-programs adapt to the shrinking labor market in journalism? Should they, f.e. downsize or witch to PR education? So far, research has paid little attention to the economics of educating journalists. It is, however, obvious that educational systems differ strongly in the Western world. For example- in the U.S., students are paying a high share of their education themselves;- in most Western European countries, taxpayers pay a large share of university education, and thus also of the training of future journalists (if they attend public universities);- in some European countries, namely Germany and Switzerland, employers have engaged in financing “elitist” journalism programs closely tied to their own companies allowing them to “fish” talented young people by even paying them salaries during their education. The paper will explore in more detail the different economic logics behind these concepts. Depending on who is financing the programs, answers will also differ on how programs will respond to the challenges of shrinking journalistic labor markets.In both cases - the static analysis of concepts concerning payments for journalism education as well as the dynamic analysis of changing conditions due to the upcoming “education revolution” - it will be essential to start with rational choice theory analyzing the decisions of the stakeholders (= media companies, governments, universities/j-schools, educators, students and parents). However this “traditional” economic approach may not be enough. Economic thinking has recently been challenged by the financial crisis and other developments which were unforeseen by economic analysts. Another basic challenge has come from “within” economic research: Behavioral economists have challenged rational choice theory by pointing towards the “predictably irrational” behavior of decision makers (Ariely) in specific situations and environments.This paper has a twofold purpose:- To introduce journalism educators to basic insights of behavioral economics, as far as future journalists should be aware of this field of research;- To submit journalism education itself (under conditions of “creative destruction and reinvention” …) to economic analysis and to the insights of behavioral economics (applying, for example, concepts like principal-agent-relationships, zero cost-craze, neglect of probability, markets for lemons, endowment effect, herd behavior & victimization by group think to journalism education).The paper is closely related to additional research which Marlis Prinzing (Macromedia Hochschule, Cologne) intends to present.

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