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Norway: Journalism school to revise curriculum in aftermath of terror attacks

January 23rd, 2012Posted by in Editors' pick, Press freedom and ethics

Norwegian journalist and blogger Kristine Lowe has written a blog post explaining how an Oslo-based journalism school is considering revising the curriculum in the aftermath of the Norway attacks.

The potential development in a Norwegian journalism school should serve as a reminder to those running UK courses to assess whether they offer sufficient crisis training.

According to Lowe’s post, the suggestion to revise the curriculum of the Oslo and Akershus University College journalism school follows a survey of the Norwegian journalists who covered the 22/7 terror attacks, which saw a bomb damage the building of VG, Norway’s largest newspaper, followed by a massacre on Utøya island.

Lowe explains that the study was carried out by Trond Idaas, an advisor to the Norwegian Journalist Union, who “has also written a masters thesis on the experiences of journalists covering the Tsunami in 2004”, adding that “he feels it is very important that crisis reporting becomes an integral part of journalism training”.

Idaas’ research reportedly found that 40 per cent of the journalists covering the tragic events on 22/7 had less than five years of journalistic experience, July being in the middle of the summer holidays in Norway, as Lowe explains.

She states:

This finding has, according to Journalisten, been an important reason for the journalism school at Oslo and Akershus University College to suggest making crisis reporting an integral part of its bachelor degree. Also, there were widespread public reactions to the use of live broadcasts from Utvika on 22/7, when some of those intereviewed quite obviously were in a state of shock.

Idaas said integrating crisis reporting in the curriculum, such as suggested at Oslo and Akershus University College, is “quite revolutionary and not even widespread internationally”.

That seems to be true in the UK. A quick and straw poll carried out via Twitter, in which we asked journalism students and lecturers whether universities currently include classes on how to report on terror and catastrophes, suggests crisis reporting is not included in the training offered by many journalism courses. Some courses, including one at City University, do offer some guidance and advice.

Are you aware of a journalism school that trains journalists in crisis reporting? Do you think training should be offered more widely? Leave a comment below.

Kristine Lowe’s post is at this link.

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