Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Licence to indoctrinate

There's a simple step that would ease the financial crisis in the universities while at the same time saving millions and going a long way toward neutralising a key source of the divisive culture wars.

All that’s necessary is to abolish every department of communications and media studies. These seem to exist for no purpose other than to promote neo-Marxist theories about oppressive power structures, racism, misogyny, white supremacy, social justice (to say nothing of its recent offshoot, “climate justice”) and decolonisation.

Communications and media studies faculties are infested by zealots and activists, many of them espousing ideas that are inimical to liberal democratic values such as free speech. They are entitled to hold those views, but not to use their taxpayer-funded academic sinecures to promote them.

More to the point, the courses these departments teach confer qualifications that have no practical application other than to propagate ideologies that only a tiny minority of New Zealanders agree with. Why should taxpayers support them?

Unlike such disciplines as the sciences, law, medicine, languages, economics, accounting and history, communications and media studies courses are not rooted in any discernible need. They grew out of academia’s insatiable appetite for new areas to colonise and the concomitant growth of an affluent, soft middle-class that provided endless fodder for useless, highly politicised degree courses.

In the process, universities have grown fat and now need to shed some weight. Tough.

It was no accident that the emergence of these courses coincided with the long march through the institutions by which radical academics, hostile to democratic capitalism, have sought for several decades to subvert the established social and economic order. Communications and media studies provided an ideal incubator for their agenda because no empirical foundation was necessary. Academicians were free to make it up as they went along because what they taught was based almost entirely on theory.

One ruinous consequence is that the training of journalists has been subjected to academic capture. Not all journalism courses are taught by universities, but the threshold for entry to the profession has been progressively raised to the point where a degree, if not mandatory, is at least highly desirable. That brings budding journalists into the orbit of lecturers who are, in many cases, proselytisers for the neo-Marxist far Left.

There is little about the theory and principles of journalism that can’t be taught in a six-month Polytechnic course. The rest comes with experience. Generations learned it by doing, and served their readers (sorry, “consumers of content”) well. But following the American model, journalism has succumbed to the phenomenon known as credentialism, whereby career opportunities increasingly depend on academic qualifications. 

To make matters worse, many of the people who teach journalism have little or no practical experience, and for those who do it’s often so far in the past as to be irrelevant. They have transmogrified into academics. (There are exceptions, of course, but I won't embarrass them by naming them.)

The result is that journalism courses are now heavily freighted with ideological content. Though they're often only semi-literate, graduates have a dangerously inflated notion of their purpose as journalists. They have been taught to think of themselves not as conveyors of information but as agents of political and social change. In line with this approach, traditional notions of fairness, balance and impartiality have been jettisoned. The concept of objectivity is derided as outdated and unattainable, freeing journalists to put their own spin on stories.

It should surprise no one that journalists as an occupational group lean to the left. In my experience, that has long been the case. What has changed is that many now identify themselves as being “extreme left”, which raises some intriguing questions: were they on the extreme Left before they became journalists, in which case was that why they chose it as a career? Did they see journalism as a means by which they could promote their political ideas? Were they encouraged in that belief by the way journalism has been politicised? Or did they start out apolitical but adopt an overtly political approach as a result of what they learned as journalism students?

The other crucial generational change is that whereas journalists of an earlier era were taught to put their feelings and opinions aside (and were sharply pulled into line if they didn’t), many younger journalists now see themselves as having licence to write stories that are openly slanted to favour causes they support and to ignore or denigrate those they oppose. And why shouldn’t they? After all, their academic qualifications confer an illusion of authority and credibility.

It’s no coincidence that the steady decline in public trust of the news media parallels journalism’s contamination by the woke theory now prevalent in university faculties. It follows that journalism would suffer not at all if training was divorced from its academic setting. But why stop there? The only people wailing in distress if every communications and media studies department in the country was shut down would be the handsomely remunerated proselytisers whose licence to indoctrinate at the public expense was curtailed.


Ele Ludemann said...

When I was at journalism school ( 40 years ago) I made the mistake of adding a sentence with my opinion to a story. I was very firmly told that news was news, not a journalist’s view.

But there is hope :the ODT has five journalism cadet ships this year:

Ele Ludemann

EL said...

I agree, (said she who has a dip.soc.sci), but that doesn't mean we don't want our journalists to be educated people. They need history - and more history - my word we are ignorant of the history of the "British Empire", and especially of pre-colonial Maori. We are all talking such rubbish, although there is much to be learned. What a clash of cultures! Illiterate people who had lived in complete isolation at the end of the Earth for centuries, coped very well with exotic strangers with warm blankets, yummy food - and GUNS! It could have been a lot worse. These people were quick learners. But this present situation is ludicrous! Come on guys - use the sense God gave you.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant. Even worse than the indoctrination is the fact that these media academics are now actively conspiring with the Extreme Left Labour regime to shut down free, legal speech online. I hope the universities who promote this subversion of basic democratic values crash and disappear forever. Not a cent more of taxpayer money. Rolls are falling, people are voting with their feet, academics have never been held in greater contempt by the public, and deservedly so.

Andy Espersen said...

Great idea, Karl. Come to think, Jacinda Ardern graduated as a Bachelor of Communication Studies!!

M&D said...

I notice now that TV1 news reporters are openly inserting their opinions into stories, particularly political items. RNZ and TV1 also regularly follow policy statements from National by negative rebuttals from the usual crowd.
And don't get me started on the so-called cartoons that are heavily anti National/Act. Where's Tom Scott when you need him!,
Gary Littler

Anonymous said...

My journalism lecturer 20 odd years ago at massey was Grant Hannis, who also ked the school. Earnest, woke before his time and ideologically driven, Grant Hannis was from academia as opposed to journalism. He went on teach a generation of journalists, a large portion of the current crop, before his career came to an abrupt end due to gerontophilia. Fitting really

ihcpcoro said...

Gary Littler - Garrick Tremain is your answer, but don't look for his excellent work in MSM.

Anna Mouse said...

The Universities that teach these media/comms based degrees are literally being bailed out by the government that fosters left wing propoganda as per the PJIF.

To find the change will require a cut back on the funding for these degrees that have the recipients racking up debt that they cannot pay back because the workplace for them is failing to provide them work and this will only get worse once the medias beloved PJIF dries up.

The next government needs to look at the funding model to see what graduates get jobs and where using their aligned degrees.

If those media, gender studies, politcal science or communications degrees don't have a 90% uptake in aligned workplaces (without something like the PIJF diveristy hire scheme) then they should not be funded.

Making universities more aligned with rational practical research, thinking and developmental study instead of the home grown NZ (ethno) centric inward looking North Korean style focus that has become more important to academics than the academia itself will go a long way.

In simple words make them accountable (like the real world) for what they teach.

Tinman said...

Karl, I agree with you about journalists although I'll point out that the spinning of the story away from the facts started in New Zealand in 1981 when your lot refused to accept the majority opinion that New Zealand could do more to oppose apartheid by showing an example of how people could work together than what is now called "cancel culture" could.

The slope downhill from there has been constant.

The other point you make is on universities.

Universities were, originally, set up to teach young men to think, study and socially interact. These young men often had very limited education (often from individual tutors) and a very small social circle.

Other than god-bothering the universities taught no subject and did no research but encouraged their students to do whatever research they wished outside the university.

With modern lifestyles we return to having a group of young men once again with similar life experience - although computers have replaced tutors.

I suppose now we must add young women but a return to this purpose only for universities would benefit mankind while seriously assisting the poor taxpayer.

Subjects (e.g. law, accountancy, science, mathematics, medicine - which already is, etc., if they actually need to be taught, can be done so in dedicated academies.

Thus the world as we know it can be saved.

Phil Blackwell

Anonymous said...

And wasn't she one of the best communicators we have had for a long time? So the courses can't be all bad.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the catoonists target NAct so often because they deserve it with their idiotic attitudes, contradictions and hypocrisy? Tom Scott was heavily criticised in his time for portraying National Politicians accurately, which was not to their liking (think one Robert Muldoon). And so those great journalists that we have or had - like Maggie Barry, Mike Hoskins, Barry Soper, Sean Plunkett, or, indeed Karl de Fresne - are all rabid left wingers who never insert their opinions? Yeah right.

Karl du Fresne said...

You've mentioned five names and misspelled three of them. Are you by any chance a university-trained journalist?

Anonymous said...

In the mid 1990s, the main TV news story (normally the main political event of the day or week) would simply be reported by one of the reporters, just the basic facts with no opinion or emotion, and the viewer could decide for themselves. Then a second more experienced reporter would give analysis, which was largely explanations and background so the viewer could better understand. Later on after the rest of the news, commentary would be given, either by the second reporter, but mostly by a third person, normally an astute journalist with much greater experience. On the 7pm Holmes show, although it was often a shouting match between two or three people, with Paul Holmes watching on, at least top politicians, civil servants or members of business or society were held accountable directly to the public.

Now for the first item on the 6pm news, the reporter provides some basic description, but mostly provides analysis, commentary and opinion on how well the politicians 'performed' or 'got their message across'. And politicians, and others in society no longer present to the public by via armies of communications staff.

Huskynut said...

She was and is an intellectual vacuum with a big mouth. If that's what a "good communicator" is, we need a damn site less of them, and a lot more good thinkers.

Eamon Sloan said...

For the last couple of months I have been following an American podcaster, James Lindsay. His site named New Discourses has a considerable quantity of in depth commentary on the subject of Wokeism or what he often refers to as Cultural Marxism – sometimes just Marxism. For some of us he has done all of the hard work in piecing together the background, strategies and tactics of Wokeism/Wokery or whatever it wants to be referred to as. One of his latest pieces is easy enough to listen to – runs for just under half an hour.

Eamon Sloan said...

In my previous comment I linked a New Discourses podcast suggesting it was worth half an hour. It actually runs to an hour and a half. That podcast does take a long time to get airborne but is still worth listening to.

I had intended to link this one which is more of a summary and does in fact run for half an hour.

Paul Peters said...

Stuff has an article this morning Sunday about ''racist'' history books infiltrating libraries with horror expressed by correct people such as O'Malley...the article three times refers to a ''massacre'' of Maori at Parihaka. There was no massacre, there were arrests and people sent back to their villages or areas or origin. So now we have a massacre . That is plain lie.

Karl du Fresne said...

I certainly saw one reference in the story to a "massacre" at Parihaka when I had a quick look online after receiving your comment, but I didn't read it in its entirety. I note that the version now on the Stuff website makes no mention of a "massacre" - which, as you say, is an outright fallacy. Obviously someone thought better of it and changed the wording, although there's no mention of the story having been edited subsequent to its first publication (which would have been the ethical thing to do in the case of such an egregious error).

It's ironic that a story professing to expose supposedly inaccurate books should itself perpetrate a brazen untruth. But it's illustrative of a tendency on the part of bone-ignorant journalists to present the worst possible picture of colonial history, and to hell with the facts.

For the record, historical accounts make no mention of anyone being killed at Parihaka, still less massacred - which is not to say it was a glorious episode in our history.

Paul Peters said...

Massacre has been changed to invasion.
I have read it now at 12.55pm. The other event they refer to has historical accounts from both sides there at the time. That is now disinformation to be banned.

Those accounts have withstood scrutiny until now, when anything allegedly past on verbally by an ancestor is deemed the truth if it fits an agenda.

Everything seems to have been magnified for political purposes. The opportunistic mass land confiscations could have been handled totally differently with 160 years' hindsight.

But ''presentism'', the new word for seeing past events as it they happened right now and applying radical solutions, is highly selective to fit one side's agenda.

The solutions to land rights today are going beyond payments and land returns. If one has even one ancestor way back who was Maori you are deemed 100pc Maori for any purpose you desire. That is ultimate control and final say on all issues by those with part-Maori ancestry. Not all of whom by any means support that but their view is ignored or branded sell-out

Paul Peters said...

I mean passed on not past on.....fuzzy head still shaking off Covid

Paul Peters said...

With this in mind I see Cherry has stepped down from the Ministry of Stuff, Thought Control and Disinformation

Anonymous said...

While I agree with your assessment of journalism, you've missed the real problem in the universities. The comms and media studies depts are downstream of the humanities.

The humanities are where the religion of Wokism was and is being developed. Specifically in sociology and gender/fat/queer/womens/etc... "studies" depts. As you know, their ideological history can be traced through Marx, the postmodernists like Derrida, child molesters like Foucalt and NZ's own John Money, and activists educational theorists like Friere.

Modern sociology has now completely taken the place of theology as the queen of the sciences, and it's just as religious. More so, arguably. Ideology abhors a vacuum. When the church retreated, something was bound to take its place. Insert Wokism.

And Wokism sees itself as such - the moral compass, the guiding force, the conscience of science and society. This is why the new science curriculum in schools is "contextualised" - the wokists this way get to define the pseudo-religious narrative around which all other topics are taught as they've done with history. Paulo Friere would be proud.

Screw the journalists. The journalists are way downstream. The real battleground is the schools, and the right are 100% asleep at the wheel.

The best temporary measure would be to defund everything other than STEM and the trades, completely. No student loans, no subsidies. That's not easy - by rebranding STEM as STEAM and other subtle trojan tricks, they're making valiant efforts to insert themselves into non-humanities depts. With success, I might add. So regulation might be required.