He Whakangungu Kairīpoata Nō Aotearoa: Journalism Education of This Place
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Responsiveness to Māori and Te Tiriti o Waitangi by journalism schools in Aotearoa New Zealand tertiary institutions is the topic of this inquiry. The catalyst is the fact that Māori enrolments in journalism schools are usually well below their population demographic. This narrative inquiry uses three methods: analysis of documentation from the five tertiary institutions which host journalism schools; semi-structured interviews with journalism educators sharing their stories of experience; and the researcher’s reflective diary. I argue there is a need for bicultural consciousness in journalism education in Aotearoa. Bicultural consciousness refers to the legal, political and cultural relationship between Māori and everyone else in the country based on Te Tiriti o Waitangi (the Treaty of Waitangi) signed in 1840. Responsibility for that relationship recognises our role as journalism educators in government-funded tertiary institutions (Tertiary Education Commission, n.d.), and acknowledges that representation of Māori in news media has ranged from imbalance to racism (Abel et al., 2012; McGregor, 1991; Stuart, 2002). Institutions create environments where the dominating focus is on Māori deficit through reporting of greater failure rates, because that is all that is measured. Documentary narratives suggest institutions are beginning to focus on staff, and in some cases students, by encouraging and in some cases measuring their bicultural consciousness. However, change will be difficult if institutions do not address another issue evident in the documents, and that is anything related to biculturalism is mostly found in theory courses within a programme of study. In other words, neither educators nor their students are required to engage with te ao Māori, the Māori world, in an applied way. The problem with this theory-practice divide is even more obvious in interviews with journalism educators. For example, there are illustrations of effective engagement with te ao Māori, how it is taught now, and the types of steps journalism schools could implement. The most effective experiences always have a transformative effect for teachers or students and those experiences are always in physical or experiential spaces on Māori terms. However, few of the courses facilitate such transformative learning opportunities which apply journalism skills. In other words, student can go through an entire programme without applying journalism skills in relationship with te ao Māori. Part of the problem is the residue of normative journalism thinking which treats journalism skills such as news gathering, story production and publishing as relatively neutral in their application. This study proposes that journalism educators connect biculturally conscious learning and teaching for themselves and students with ongoing active experiences directly or indirectly in authentic relationship with Māori. The study finds innovation among some educators who use the term manaakitanga to describe an Aotearoa New Zealand journalism education of this place. For example, an institutional bicultural model relies on reciprocal relationships across staff both inside institutions and externally, and always involving Māori. Meanwhile a model of a project with a community strongly connecting to te ao Māori is transformative for students. When institutions encourage such Tiriti-driven actions they will need to be prepared to also change tertiary systems, because there are significant flow-of effects for staff time and therefore budgets. Institutions and educators taking this level of responsibility for authentic relationships will make a difference to journalism practice through graduates. Once that happens, more Māori may be more interested in seeing journalism as a career worth undertaking.