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Building peace in the minds of men and women

UNESCO Series on Journalism Education


© UNESCO and Unsplash

UNESCO’s support for journalism education is underpinned by a strong conviction that professional journalistic standards are essential to bring out the potential of media systems to foster democracy, dialogue and development.

Professional news media acts as a guardian of public interest. It is an important component of the checks and balances that form part of a democracy. By disseminating trusted information to citizens, the news media enables citizen participation in development and strengthens accountability feedback mechanisms. Citizens cannot exercise and enjoy their citizenship in the absence of crucial information and knowledge, which well-trained journalists are better placed to provide.

However, recent trends in the last few years have placed journalism under fire. A range of factors are transforming the communications landscape, raising questions about the quality, impact and credibility of journalism, making UNESCO’s Excellence in Journalism Series a crucial repository for journalism education and training worldwide.

Journalism educators can explore UNESCO’s offer, which includes syllabi on Journalism, ‘Fake News’ and Disinformation, handbooks to assist journalists on reporting climate change, including in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, Teaching Journalism for Sustainable Development, a Model curricula for journalism education and Compendium of new syllabi and, in the coming months, a model curricula for Gender, Media and ICTs.

The model curricula and handbooks are designed to be used as an entire course, or can be used in bespoke ways to suit the media landscape and the needs of journalism students at the local level. They have been developed by experts who are at the cutting edge of journalism education and are presented in a variety of formats and languages.



Journalism, 'Fake News' and Disinformation

Developments in the last few years have placed journalism under fire. A range of factors are transforming the communications landscape, raising questions about the quality, impact and credibility of journalism. At the same time, orchestrated campaigns are spreading untruths - disinformation, mal-information and misinformation - that are often unwittingly shared on social media:

- Disinformation: Information that is false and deliberately created to harm a person, social group, organisation or country

- Misinformation: Information that is false but not created with the intention of causing harm

- Mal-information: Information that is based on reality, used to inflict harm on a person, social group, organisation or country.

Written by experts in the fight against disinformation, Journalism, 'Fake News' and Disinformation: Handbook for Journalism Education and Training, is a timely resource and highly topical subject for all those who practice or teach journalism in this Digital Age. The handbook serves as an internationally relevant model curriculum, open to adoption or adaptation.

This model curriculum is an essential addition to teaching syllabi for all journalism educators, as well as practicing journalists and editors who are interested in information, how we share it and how we use it.  It is mission critical that those who practice journalism understand and report on the new threats to trusted information.  Political parties, health professionals, business people, scientists, election monitors and others will also find it useful.



Model curricula for journalism education: a compendium of new syllabi

This publication builds on the original UNESCO Model Curricula developed in 2007 and adapted, since then, in over 60 countries. The ten new specialized syllabi on journalism education fill the gap for specialized literacies required by journalism educators to respond to new challenges. Such specialized journalistic literacies include those relating to media sustainability, data mining, intercultural dialogue, global communication, humanitarian crisis, human trafficking, community participation, science and bioethics, as well as gender inequality.

Whereas the original Model Curricula focused on developing countries and emerging democracies, these new syllabi are relevant to all democratic societies in which journalism education is an important part of national efforts at promoting free, independent and pluralistic media development. An added value of these new syllabi consists in the use of globally inclusive sources of references, increased focus on online resources and gender-sensitivity.

This compendium of new syllabi represents UNESCO’s strategic response to the question: How can journalism education continue to renew itself? These questions are framed in an increasingly complex social, political and economic context. In the aftermath of the 2008 global economic and financial crisis, journalism faced its most trying moment, especially in the developed world. And so did journalism education, posing challenges for the future.

The development of the UNESCO Model Curricula is an attempt by UNESCO to set standards based on good practice internationally. The effort derives from a conviction that professional journalistic standards are essential to a media system that can foster democracy, dialogue and development. By improving the quality of journalism education, UNESCO believes that both journalism educators and students stand a better chance of influencing journalistic production at the news-institutional level. In turn, newsrooms that are staffed by well-trained and critically minded journalists are likely to positively influence the processes of democracy and development in their societies, especially in the developing world. A quality journalism education is a guarantor not only of democracy and development, but also of press freedom itself.



Model curricula for journalism education

The proposed Journalism Curricula is a generic model that can be adapted according to each country’s specific needs. It takes full cognizance of the social, economic, political and cultural contexts of developing countries and emerging democracies, highlighting the connection between democracy and journalism and arguing for a more cross-disciplinary approach within journalism training centres.

In December 2005, in response to numerous requests from Member States for help in the design of journalism education curricula, UNESCO convened an experts’ consultative meeting in Paris. Major outputs of the consultation were the identification of courses, which should be included in a journalism curriculum.

A team of four UNESCO experts, commissioned for the initial development of the journalism education curricula initiative, solicited a response to their first draft from twenty senior journalism educators who were deemed to have considerable experience working in developing countries and emerging democracies. Their responses proved to be essential for the establishment of appropriate and applicable curricula. The revised draft design thus featured a list of courses for both undergraduate and post-graduate levels, a brief description of each course and an outline of fundamental journalism competencies.

Journalism instructors with experience working in developing countries or emerging democracies were then carefully selected from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and North and South America to write the syllabuses for seventeen core courses. The draft curricula was reviewed at a second experts’ consultative meeting at UNESCO in Paris, selecting a number of model syllabuses to qualify the document for formal presentation to the World Journalism Education Congress in June 2007 in Singapore.




Teaching journalism for sustainable development: new syllabi

This work aims to extend the UNESCO Model Curricula for Journalism Education to include new syllabi covering emerging or particularly relevant themes in journalism education globally. As such, it builds on the model curricula – as well as the supplementary UNESCO publication titled A Compendium of New Syllabi – to effectively respond to new issues facing journalism professionals and teachers.

This publication is especially opportune in its response to a key development challenge of the next 15 years. With the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) coming to an end, and being replaced with what will be called the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs), a long-term pedagogical strategy is called for which can respond to the correlation between a free, independent and pluralistic media system and the overall process of sustainable development.

Against this background, all the syllabi in this particular publication are underpinned by the theme of human development, and indicate UNESCO’s unique normative role in promoting good practices and agenda-setting with regard to journalism education worldwide. In this regard, the publication helps to extend our theoretical understanding of journalism as a responsive, dynamic and evolving practice. In so doing, the publication brings together a diverse ensemble of journalism education experts internationally, and its broad appeal is to integrate the notion of sustainable development into journalistic pedagogy.






Climate change in Africa: a guidebook for journalists

This book responds to a very real need in African journalists’ reporting of the complex phenomenon of climate change. Climate change poses a clear danger to lives and livelihoods across Africa. Journalists there have critical roles to play in explaining the cause and effects of climate change, in describing what countries and communities can do to adapt to the impacts ahead, and in reporting on what governments and companies do, or do not do, to respond to these threats.

Yet research on public understanding of climate change and surveys of journalists reveal that across Africa the media can and should do more to tell the story of climate change. UNESCO produced this book to help fill this important gap.

The authors of this guide represent the organizations that have trained hundreds of journalists around the world to report more effectively on climate change. They consulted 44 journalists from 17 African countries and 38 climate-change specialists, who provided their insights into what was missing from African media coverage and how this book should help to fill those gaps.











The global investigative journalism casebook

The Global Casebook of Investigative Journalism serves as a complement to UNESCO's successful publication Story-Based Inquiry: A Manual for Investigative Journalists 2009). UNESCO has consistently supported initiatives to strengthen investigative journalism throughout the world, which is crucial for freedom of expression and freedom of information. The Casebook aims to enable and enhance the exchange of good practices and networking in investigative journalism worldwide.

The Casebook contains more than 20 recent investigative stories from around the world, covering a wide variety of topical subjects such as freedom of information, good governance, social and legal issues, the environment, health and gender. Each article is accompanied by an explanation of how the authors conducted their research and wrote their pieces. Many of the authors belong to the Global Investigative Journalism Network, and their stories exemplify the cutting-edge techniques and high standards developed within this network.

At a time when media landscapes are rapidly changing, journalism today needs to clearly show its added value for public interest. In this light, credible investigative stories, like the kind promoted in this book, are increasingly important for highlighting the continuing importance of professional journalistic work.

This Casebook thus serves as a key knowledge resource, providing a valuable learning opportunity for journalists and media professionals, as well as for journalism trainers and educators. It will also be used by UNESCO field offices to conduct training courses in investigative reporting.





Civic education for media professionals: a training manual

This manual serves as a resource for journalism students and media professionals in developing countries, providing them with essential knowledge for the analysis of the relationship between media functions and active citizenship, and the underlying nexus of democracy, development and the media based on the fundamental principles of democracy and human rights that lie at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate.

The media is an important part of democracy. A good test of democracy is citizen participation. Civic awareness enables both media practitioners and users to appreciate the role of journalism and media in building democratic societies. The normative nature of the media opens up avenues for negotiating what the media can do to deepen the democratic experience of developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.

The objective of the manual is, therefore, threefold:

- to raise greater civic consciousness among media professionals about the democratic role of the media in the transitional democracies of the developing world;

- to enhance the civic competence of media practitioners to help them in their analysis and reporting of civic affairs; and

- to encourage greater prioritization of civic news among media institutions.






Criteria and indicators for quality journalism training institutions & identifying potential centres of excellence in journalism training in Africa


The report maps the capacity and potential for excellence of almost one hundred journalism schools across Africa, highlighting the development challenges and opportunities of African journalism institutions and identifying specific areas for support from development partners.

Within the framework of UNESCO’s Programme in Communication and Information, and particularly in view of the action “building professional and institutional capacity for media training”, this report documents the process and results of a project to set up criteria and indicators to assess quality (‘excellence’) of media training institutions, and to map African journalism schools on the African continent, focusing analysis on the quality of the top institutions deemed to be centres of excellence.

Criteria and indicators were defined using the input of seven journalistic experts, including consultants from Theophraste, Orbicom and Journet, global networks of journalism and media schools. Eleven media development agencies and nineteen African journalism schools also provided contributions to the project. Of the ninety-six institutions that were targeted to map Africa’s journalism schools, a total of thirty submitted in-depth information regarding the proposed criteria and indicators. Where the institutions concerned have agreed to make this information public, it can be found under their entries in the online database.

The researchers also visited thirty-four institutions. As a result of the report, twelve candidate institutions were identified as potential Centres of Excellence, and a further nine institutions noted as potential Centres of Reference.



Media as partners in education for sustainable development: a training and resource kit

This training kit attempts to provide media professionals with basic information about some priority issues for sustainable development. It also provides practical exercises to inspire investigative reporting, and draws links to existing experience that may enrich the information resources of media professionals.

The kit addresses issues that are being discussed on the social, economic and environmental fronts. It does not pretend to know all the answers, but draws on existing experience and recommends resources for further inquiry and research. It encourages the media to engage in public participation and to debate improvements that can lead to sustainable development. It also seeks to contribute to media awareness and understanding of sustainability.














Story-Based Inquiry: A manual for investigative journalists

This manual provides a guide to basic methods and techniques of investigative journalism, and it consciously fills a gap in the literature of the profession. The majority of investigative manuals devote a lot of space to the subject of where to find information. They assume that once a reporter finds the information he or she seeks, he or she will be able to compose a viable story.

The publication focuses on the hypothesis-based inquiry approach, which takes the basic assumption that a story is only a hypothesis until verified. The methods and skills applying to every step of the investigative process, from conception to research, writing, quality control and dissemination, have been thoroughly analyzed and are well illustrated by case studies in each chapter.

UNESCO has consistently supported initiatives that promote accountability and professional standards in journalism. Since 2005 the Amman-based ARIJ has been working to improve the quality of investigative reporting and nurture a culture of investigative journalism across the region, among and by Arab media professionals and activists, for the benefit of the Arab public.











Getting the Story and Telling it Right, HIV on TV: A Handbook for Television Trainers and Producers

The handbook is a reference and toolkit designed in three parts to support information and training needs by television producers and trainers. It draws examples from diverse productions including those of UNESCO’s Network of Young Television Producers on HIV and AIDS.

AIBD was supported by UNESCO to prepare the handbook which was tested for usability at several workshops. “We cannot ignore the scope and impact of HIV and AIDS,” said Director Javad Mottaghi. “Broadcasters can help to increase knowledge by ensuring that their staff is up-to-date and informed about all aspects of HIV. They can even save lives by engaging the public in discussion and dialogue about many of the controversial features of this challenging problem we face in current times,” he added. AIBD’s commitment to HIV prevention has been consistent. It is one of few broadcast training institutions that have a designated, full-time staff member working specifically on sensitizing broadcasters and training of TV producers on HIV-related issues.










Getting the Message Across. Reporting on Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific: A Handbook for Journalists

Climate change threatens to reverse many of the development gains that Asia and the Pacific region have made. This is an increasingly important issue for journalists to cover, in order to provide open discussion and access to information for a local response. For journalists in the region, coverage of climate change is of great benefit. At the local level, it can save lives, formulate plans, change policy and empower people to make informed choices. Through informed reporting, journalists can shed a light on the wealth of activities that people are already undertaking to prepare for climate change. On an international level, it can bring Asia Pacific stories to global audiences and help encourage the rich and powerful countries, their citizens and the companies based there, to act in solidarity with climate vulnerable communities.

Getting the Message Across, Reporting on Climate Change and Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific: A Handbook for Journalists has been customized for journalists to tell the climate change story specific to the region. It explores the essential aspects of climate change, including its injustices to vulnerable communities, especially women and girls and least developed countries, and provides examples of best practices and stories of hope unique to the region. It can be used as a resource for journalists to understand the science of climate change, as well as helping journalists to improve their reporting of the environmental, social, economic ̧ political, technological and other angles of the story.