Academic slams ‘Mickey Mouse’ journalism courses

A college has defended its plans for a degree in celebrity journalism after a senior academic called for it be scrapped. Dr Richard Pike, head of the Royal Society of Chemistry, sparked controversy yesterday after hitting out at so-called “Mickey Mouse” degrees.

Calling for some “realism” about university funding, Dr Pike said the government should “no longer be paying young people to start courses on celebrity journalism or international football business management.

“These courses should be kicked into touch, especially at a time when the UK is desperately short of funding research into Alzheimer’s and other diseases of ageing, alternative energy sources and wider, more effective health care provision, all of which depend on leading edge work in the fundamental sciences,” he said.

Celebrity Journalism is a new three-year course being offered at Staffordshire University from this autumn. Its sylllabus includes interviewing celebrities and understanding celebrity culture.

Dr Pike said that such courses were no more than an attempt to “satisfy some ephemeral demand that in 10 years’ time will be viewed as a curiosity”.

But the university’s head of journalism Sarah Rowlands said focusing on celebrity will help equip journalists for the changing world.

“Whilst traditional news reporting jobs are decreasing, jobs reporting celebrity news are expanding. We need to train our journalism students to be employable in this changing market,” she said.

The college stressed that students on the couse would also be taught “core journalistic skills” including media law and shorthand.

But Ms Rowlands said that journalism training needed to respond to what she called “the changing face of news”.

“The world we live in demands news about celebrities. You only have to go online, open a newspaper, read a magazine, watch TV ” there is a thirst for information about this footballer, that person from X Factor or that film star,” she said.

“If Staffordshire University is to continue its ability to lead the way with cutting edge awards we need to adapt to the changing face of news.”

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