Category Archives: Communication and Media

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

“Deliberately Unattractive”: Food in Soviet Estonian Visual Culture

Bart Pushaw (IndianaUniversity) and Kristina Lupp (University of Adelaide)

As food is tied to basic human experience, its depiction is often easily understood and thus universal. The visualization of food has often been used to connote wealth and power, and conjure the merriment of abundance. The advent of realism and focus on the urban poor illustrated the opposite: people living in poverty with very little. During the Soviet occupation of Estonia, food was also in shortage. What use are food advertisements if there is no food to buy?  Set against a backdrop of Soviet Estonia, this paper will deal with the following questions: How did Estonian artists respond to these changes? Are there major differences in food motives between artists that adhered to Socialist Realism and those who are considered “non-conformist?” By examining images across an array of visual media — including but not limited to painting, advertisements, and other print media — this paper explores the various representations of food in Soviet Estonia and how artists, both commercial and studio, used the universality of food in order to express the conflict between Soviet ideology and everyday life.

Three Visualization Waves in Estonian Newspapers: Past, Present and Future

Roosmarii Kurvits (University of Tartu)

In my presentation I will review how the degree and the role of visuality have changed and are changing in Estonian newspapers and analyze the reasons for the changes. The visuality is understood as the use of line-art illustrations and photographs. In the 19th century, the visuality of Estonian newspapers constantly decreased; in the 20th century the visuality increased. The rise has not been continuous. The degree of visuality has developed in three “leaps”: in the second half of the 1920s, in the second half of the 1950s and during the 1990s–2000s. Until the 1990s, the role of visuals was to illustrate the verbal content. Then they became information mediators and thereafter, the determinants of verbal content. I argue that the increasing visualization and changes in the role of visuals are caused by the competition between different media. Every new medium that appears in the news market (radio, TV, online) is a competitor to newspapers and in response to increased competition Estonian newspapers abruptly increased their visuality. In recent years, the degree of visuality has stabilized. I argue that the visuality has currently reached the maximum level; it is impossible to increase the visuality in the future without decreasing the verbal content of Estonian newspapers below a reasonable minimum.

Jonas Mekas: OV (Original Vlogger)

Bjorn Ingvoldstad (Bridgewater State University)

In addition to his work as film critic, curator, and archivist, Jonas Mekas has also secured his place in film history with his prolific series of “film diaries.” With the ascension of YouTube and the practice of video blogging (or vlogging as it is sometimes called), we might fruitfully understand Mekas’ film diaries as pre-Web vlogs. As the line between producers and consumers becomes increasingly blurred, Mekas continues to claim a position as video auteur through his eponymous website, jonasmekasfilms.com.  This presentation focuses upon Mekas’ use of the Web to extend his “diary” (and its attendant archive) online.  Though largely a text-based discussion, I argue for the industrial importance of online and global Baltic cinema distribution — not just in the coming years and decades, but also in the present moment.