Study Journalism in South Africa

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Journalism Studies in South Africa

South Africa is a vibrant, diverse, and dynamic society set in some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the world. Because South Africa’s political landscape is changing so rapidly, there are ample opportunities for young journalists to witness first-hand the many hot-button issues that are currently under debate in South Africa. The nation is currently emerging from centuries of colonization and decades of post-colonial apartheid, and the processes of democratization, desegregation, land reform, and sustainable development are all very much on display here. South Africa also faces enormous environmental issues as a result of its unique and fragile ecosystems, coupled with the rapid growth in the human population. In short, journalists in South Africa live and work in close proximity to a great wealth of compelling stories.

Opportunities to study journalism in South Africa are slightly more limited than they would be in Europe or the United States – due to the less well-developed nature of South African education more generally.  However, there are a number of colleges and universities that offer undergraduate degrees in journalism, including two (Rhodes University and the University of Pretoria) that offer the highly specialized Bachelor of Journalism, or BJourn, degree.  Job opportunities exist in South Africa and elsewhere for people with both of these degrees, but the Bachelor of Journalism is decidedly more prestigious. In addition, a Bachelor of Journalism is good qualification for further graduate study in journalism (such as an MA or MFA), whereas the BA in Journalism is less so.

The BJourn program at Rhodes University is particularly noteworthy, in part because it is widely regarded as the best journalism program in southern Africa, and in part because it operates on a 3-4 year model that is increasingly being adopted by other journalism programs in South Africa and neighboring countries. At Rhodes University, a large number of first-year college students declare an interest in journalism and are permitted to take introductory courses. At the end of this year, a rigorous selection process pares the class down to just over one hundred highly qualified candidates, who will take two more years of journalism classes. Many of these students will graduate after the third year with a BA degree and a major in Journalism. A select few, however, will complete a fourth year of classes in the theory and practice of journalism, and will receive the more prestigious BJourn. This dual-track structure is becoming increasingly popular because it gives students the opportunity to learn about the journalism business without getting locked into an intensive, narrowly focused four-year degree. The “exit option” after four years gives students the flexibility to pursue other interests and opportunities if they decide that the BJourn is not a good fit for them.

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