In a very powerful submission a top Australian journalist and editor has called on the government to restore journalism to the list of courses for student loans.
Mr Greg Chamberlin, arguably Queensland’s most respected editor, has lauded the success of Jschool’s journalism course in preparing students for careers in the news media.
‘I am concerned that this decision alienates Australia’s most successful journalism college: Jschool, based in Brisbane. It has a huge industry-acknowledged success rate, with at least 60 per cent of its Journalism Diploma graduates offered placements,’ he said.
Mr Chamberlin outlined the background of the Jschool college: ‘Jschool is an independent college, founded in 2001 by John Henningham, PhD (University of Qld), Australia’s first PhD in Journalism and foundation Professor of Journalism at the University of Qld and the former head of the university’s journalism department. The college received Australian Government fee help registration in 2009. It offers a one year accredited tertiary qualification.’
He continued: ‘Professor Henningham summed up its success this way: “Students learn by doing”. As the media industry knows, that is true; every bit of the way. As a former editor and editorial executive I wrote of the new course in its formative years: Jschool offers aspiring journalists a new path to the door of a cadetship in an industry marked by fierce competition for places, and provides an opportunity via an internship program for its students to showcase their talents by writing for regional and metropolitan newspapers.
‘As the success of the college’s graduates has proved, however, this is an extremely modest assessment. Jschool’s Diploma of Journalism graduates work as journalists throughout Australia. Some work overseas.
‘In addition, industry professionals recognised for their contribution to journalism have acknowledged the success of the program by accepting honorary doctorates from Jschool. They include National Nine political editor Laurie Oakes, national chief correspondent of The Australian Hedley Thomas, crime and corruption reporter Bob Bottom, APN Australian executive editor Peter Owen, and Herald Sun journalists Gerard McManus and Michael Harvey, recognised for their courage in upholding the Journalists’ professional code of ethics after they were convicted and fined for contempt of court for refusing to reveal confidential sources.’
In his submission Mr Chamberlin drew attention to the Education Department’s own criteria for determining which courses deserved loans:
‘The Department of Education says the major pruning of courses eligible for student loans “will ensure the Government’s investment in vocational education and training (VET) is better targeted and large loan amounts are no longer paid to courses that have limited public good”.’
He concluded: ‘In a rapidly changing media world, the Diploma of Journalism offered by Jschool is the very epitome of public good.’
Mr Chamberlin was editor of The Courier-Mail during its ‘glory days’. Under his editorship major investigative journalism resulted in establishment of the Fitzgerald Inquiry which exposed widespread corruption in government and police, and led to the downfall of the premier and the jailing of three former ministers and the police commissioner. In recognition of his journalism and editorship Mr Chamberlin was awarded the Clarion Award in 2015 for outstanding contribution to journalism. Judges described his work as a ‘triumph in journalism’.