Media studies in question

The making of a contested formation

Authored by: Graham Murdock , Peter Golding

The Routledge Companion to British Media History

Print publication date:  September  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415537186
eBook ISBN: 9781315756202
Adobe ISBN: 9781317629474

10.4324/9781315756202.ch4

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Abstract

In January 2014, the popular writer and philosopher Alain de Botton appeared on the BBC flagship current affairs programme Newsnight to promote his new book News: A User’s Manual (de Botton, 2014). He argued, unchallenged, that schools and universities ought to teach critical thinking on news, neglecting to mention that this project has been a mainstay of media studies in the classroom for over 50 years, supported by a substantial body of university-based research on the politics of news production and representation. This refusal to acknowledge the growth of media studies as an academic field is unusual. Public debate has more often been dominated by two other reactions. A swelling chorus of commentators has dismissed the area as trivial and lightweight, the resort of the second-rate, unwilling or unable to cope with the rigors of traditional disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, labeling it, in a much over-used phrase, a ‘Mickey Mouse’ subject. A second response elevates training above critical reflection and disinterested analysis and insists that media studies should focus on the acquisition of the practical skills and professional disciplines required to work effectively in the media industries.

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