Journalism Education in a Changing Lithuania: Challenges Twenty Years after the Restoration of Independence

Kristina Juraitė (Vytautas Magnus University) and Eric Freedman (Michigan State University)

During Lithuania’s twenty years of independence, journalism education has evolved dramatically from the rigid, theory-driven pedagogical approach of the Soviet era.  However, journalism instructors and their institutions still face significant challenges in producing graduates who can become ethical and fair professionals with the skills essential for careers in a rapidly changing media environment.  This paper begins with an overview of journalism education in Lithuania, including the early phase of the 1920s-1940s (first independence period) and the Soviet era, traces subsequent changes in journalism education since restoration of independence in 1990, and explores several major contemporary challenges confronting journalism education in the country today, including theory-based training, lack of sufficient facilities to teach applied skills, and the poor image of journalists in the public.  To provide additional context, the paper also describes representative challenges facing journalism education in several post-Soviet countries that in contrast to Lithuania have not adopted pluralistic, market-based press systems and do not respect press freedom.  The role of training and education of journalists seems to be of particular significance in bringing journalism students as close to practice as possible, at the same time allowing analysis and reflection that is necessary for journalists to fully understand both the methods involved in news reporting and writing, and the social impact of proliferating market journalism. The paper aims to show that despite regularly updated curricula, journalism education has trouble building more solid bridges between academia and the media industries, as well as preparing graduates for a more successful entry into a job-market.

Keyword: Juraite

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