Teaching media policy and regulation in the Finnish academia

Below is the last part of Prof. Hannu Nieminen‘s paper titled “A view from the European North: media policy and regulation in the Finnish Academia . (Read the first part here). In this part, he  discusses the evolution and  the present state of the teaching of media policy & regulation in Finland.

Let me now proceed to the third topic of my presentation:

3. Teaching media policy & regulation

I will refer here mostly to our experience in Finland – although I think that most of what I will say applies to other Nordic countries as well.

Media policy and regulation, as a separate field of studies, has entered the Finnish academic curriculum only recently and it is still in the process of being fully established. My professorship – I am a professor of media and communication policy from 2007 – is perhaps the first sign the academic recognition of this sub-field. In related faculties similar processes are under way – the first chair in Media Law has just been established in the Faculty of Law in Helsinki.

Hannu 8

In the teaching programs certain elements relating to media policy and regulation have stayed from the early years of journalism education, as I mentioned earlier. They include

  • Courses on journalism ethics and media law, taught at most departments but without a common course description,
  • Courses on media structures and institutions, again taught at most departments but without a common description,
  • Additionally, some occasional elective courses on BA- and MA-levels on the issues of media policy and regulation, media structures, media economy.

More serious efforts to establish specific programs on this area started in the mid-2000s. It is however symptomatic that they had, from the start, to depend fully on external funding as there were no extra resources to be derived from the established disciplines – and additionally, the financial squeeze that the universities have recently been subjected to, was started to be felt just on those times.

The Department of Communication at the Helsinki University succeeded in receiving a substantial grant from the Helsingin Sanomat Foundation – a private fund managed by the biggest media house in Finland, the Sanoma Corporation.[1] The total sum of the grant was some 1,5 million Euro – with which the Master’s program “Media and Global Communication” [2]was established. Unfortunately, the grant will run out in 2017, and the future of the program is still pending after that.

 Hannu 9

The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the Tampere University, on their part, received a grant from another Finnish Foundation, the Åkerlund Foundation[3] – another private fund managed by the second biggest media house in Finland, the Alma Media Corporation, to establish a Master of Arts program in “Media Management”.[4] Their grant will last until 2016 but plans for its extension are under way.

In addition, there are no full degree programs in the area of media policy and regulation, or related subjects in Finland. There is, however, an elective strand or module in the Bachelor and Master level studies in Helsinki under the title “Theories of the Public Sphere” which covers core issues in media policy and regulation.

The problem is also the lack of extensive academic literature on the subject in Finnish (or in Swedish). There are a few introductory textbooks (Nieminen & Pantti 2012; Nordenstreng & Wiio 2012; Mäntylä 2008; Finnish Mass Media 2011), plus some more are in production; but there is a need for textbooks for the advanced and post-graduate levels too.

Media and communication policy and regulation is better established in the field of academic research. During the years a number of PhD dissertations have been published on these issues, including topics as Public Service Broadcasting and television policy more broadly; the concept of pluralism in media policy; digital convergence, etc.  As a result, a solid group of researchers specializing on media policy and regulation has started to establish – including scholars from related disciplines, media economy, media law, media technology. This has also benefited the development of a productive dialogue with the Ministry and many media companies.

Hannu 10

In the last few years, a number of research projects have been started, funded by the Academy of Finland and other external sources. Some examples of them are:

  • ”Facing the coordination challenge: problems, policies and politics in media and communication regulation” (Helsinki)
  • ” Media Systems in Flux: The Challenge of the BRICS Countries” (Tampere), led by professor Nordenstreng,
  • “Convergence and Business Models – Innovations in Daily Newspapers” (Helsinki, Moscow, Berlin, Wien/Pölten),[5]
  • “A cross-country comparative analysis of media regulatory bodies” (Braga/Portugal & 7 other universities).

4. M.Soc.Sci in Media and Global Communication in Helsinki University

Finally, I will say a few words about the Master’s program in Media and Global Communication at Helsinki. As I mentioned, it is funded 100 per cent by Helsingin Sanomat Foundation for the years 2009-2017. The yearly intake of students is 14, plus 3 to 4 professional journalist who can receive a diploma but not the degree.

It is an international program and there are no tuition fees, as higher education in Finland is free for all – although there are plans to start charging fees from overseas students (non-European Union citizens). The student body of the program is very global in appearance: there are students not only from all over Europe but from the USA, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, Ethiopia, China, Iran, Philippines and other countries.

The body of the MGC curriculum consists of seven basic study units plus a component  of elective studies:

MGC 1 Introduction to Media and Global Communication 5 ECTS
MGC 2 Global Media Industries and Structures 5 ECTS
MGC 3 Theoretical and Contemporary Issues in Media and Global Communication 4 courses á 5 ECTS= 20 ECTS (+ elective studies max 20 ECTS)
MGC 4 Advanced Research Methods in Communication 6 ECTS
MGC 5 Practical Training/Work Placement 7 ECTS
MGC 6 Master’s Seminar in Media and Global Communication  + Personal Study Plan  (HOPS) 10 +1 ECTS
MGC 7 Master’s Thesis 40 ECTS
  ElectiveStudies 20 – 22 – 24 ECTS

 In the study year 2012-2013 the elective courses (MGC 3) include:

  • CulturalDiversity and Social Media
  • Global Communication and Digital Media: Building Communities
  • Journalism and New Media
  • Media, Journalism and Politics in Latin America
  • Media Ownership and Comparative Media Systems
  • Mediated Participation
  • Recent Issues in Media Policy and Media Management.[6]

Most of the elective courses are taught by visiting lecturers, and during the years an excellent network of experts has been established. Among the recent or forthcoming visitors are Daniel Hallin, Graham Murdoch, Daya Thussu, Colin Sparks, John D. Peters, Rodney Benson, Anette Hill, Nico Carpentier, Minna Aslama, Axel Bruns, Charles Husband, Eugenia Siapera, Maria Michalis, Alison Harcourt, Charlie Brown, among others.

The big question is what will happen after the funding ends in 2017. The official policy is that the program should be integrated to the general curriculum of the Media and Communication Studies. In principle, it might be possible, but without extra resources it would be very difficult. The external grant has given us the resources to manage the extremely laborious application process, the administration of teaching program, and the inviting and hosting of visiting lecturers. Without a further grant or extra funding from the university, we will face problems in all these aspects.

*        *        *           *           *

Dear colleagues,

Just let me add a few words for the final end. We all know that we academics are special experts in complaining – especially we like to complain the lack of resources and the overwhelming control from the central administration – at least this is the case in Finland, but I guess it is the same here in India too. Let me finish my presentation with a more upbeat tone: I have a sense that what we are discussing today is rally central for the future of media and communication studies –not only from the perspective of our own sub-disciplines but even more widely.

There is a need and I believe an increasing socio-academic invitation to go back to the basic questions, defining our discipline as a whole: what are our epistemic and normative engagements? How are they reflected in our teaching and in our research? How are they related to the other sub-disciplines in media and communication – and even more fundamentally, to other sciences and disciplines today?

Mapping these kinds of questions would make a good start, I think, for the meta-analysis of media and communication research which I advocated earlier in my presentation.

I finish my presentation with a picture (see below) from the first international doctoral defence in Finland, at Tampere University on 1968, 45 years ago.

Hannu 7

The candidate in the picture is the late professor Osmo A. Wiio, who sadly passed away just a week ago. As one of the founding fathers of media and communication research in Finland, his generous heritage still lives at my department in Helsinki – he is remembered with great warmth and respect.

Many thanks for your attention.

(Hannu Nieminen is Professor of Media and Communication Policy & Head of Discipline, Media and Communication Studies at University of Helsinki, Finland)

NOTES


[1] The HelsinginSanomat Foundation, http://www.hssaatio.fi/en/.

[2]  Master’s Degree Programme in Media and Global Communication (MGC), http://www.helsinki.fi/globalmedia/.

[3]Åkerlundinsäätiö, http://www.akerlundinsaatio.fi/.

[4] Master’s Degree Programme in Media Management, http://www.uta.fi/admissions/degreeprog/programmes/media_management.html.

[5] See Media Convergence and Business Models:

Responses of Finnish Daily Newspapers.http://www.helsinki.fi/crc/Julkaisut/Media_Convergence.pdf.

[6] See more, http://www.helsinki.fi/globalmedia/courses12-13/index.html. In 2012-2013 a special thematic emphasis is on media, journalism and politics in Latin America. In 2013-2014 the emphasis area will be Asia.

WORKS CITED 

Finnish Mass Media 2011 (2012)  Helsinki: Statistics Finland.

Hallin, Daniel & Paolo Mancini (2004) Comparing Media Systems.Three Models of Media and Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nord, Lars (2008) ‘Comparing Nordic media systems: North between West and East?’ In: Central European Journal of Communication 1(2008) 95-110.

Nieminen, Hannu & Mervi Pantti (2012) Media markkinoilla. Johdatus joukkoviestintään ja sen tutkimukseen.Vastapaino: Tampere.

Nordenstreng, Kaarle (2012) ‘Communication Research Has Expanded Phenomenally since the 1950s, But Where Has It Taken Us?’Paper and figure at EURICOM Colloquium, Piran (Slovenia), 16-17 November 2012.

Nordenstreng, Kaarle&Osmo A. Wiio (eds.) (2012) Suomen mediamaisema. Vastapaino: Tampere.

Mäntylä, Jorma (2008) Journalistin etiikka. Helsinki: Gaudeamus.

Image Courtesy

Image 1: CCMG

Image 2: http://www.helsinki.fi/inbrief/index.html

Image 3:  A slide from Prof. Hannu Nieminen’s PPT

Image 4: CCMG

Image 5: A slide from Prof. Hannu Nieminen’s PPT

This entry was published on May 20, 2013 at 4:14 pm. It’s filed under Communication Studies, Media Policy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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