Once again, media studies is in the firing line! When done well, it’s an excellent course, with excellent transferable skills (as well as the intrinsic skills):
Media self-hatred is fuelling the attacks on media studies, says Sally Feldman
So media studies is in the firing line again. This time, the renewal of hostilities was prompted by the appointment of Les Ebdon as head of the Office for Fair Access. He has incurred the wrath of critics not merely for his trenchant views on widening access, but also for his championing of non- traditional subjects such as media studies.
This has put him at odds with the MPs who make up the Conservative Fair Access to University Group, who dismiss media studies as one of the “soft” subjects – an assertion that has only been tepidly opposed by David Willetts, the universities and science minister. Willetts may have recently acknowledged that these “are often really valuable vocational courses”, but that faint support hasn’t stopped him from removing the teaching grant that has until now made them viable.
But by far the most vituperative attacks on media studies have come from the media itself. On Ebdon’s appointment, for example, the Daily Mail called him a “champion of Mickey Mouse degrees” – foremost among which was, of course, media studies.
“I have always found it curious that those in the media do not take themselves seriously enough to think of the media itself as an object of academic study,” commented Martin McQuillan, dean of arts and social sciences at Kingston University, in these pages (“Weapon of Mass Education”, 1 March). “I can only put it down to some form of transferential self-loathing.
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Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.