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POLIS - teaching, research, policy and debate in the news media marketplace

This initiative has now launched and the POLIS website can be found at  Polis|

A new journalism initiative from LSE and the University of the Arts/LCC

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and the University of the Arts London/London College of Communication (LCC) are working together on a series of news and journalism focused teaching and research programmes and events to start in 2006.

The proposal, called POLIS, is based around three core activities:

  • Public lectures, 'Chatham House' style seminars, and open debates on the changing role of news media and the challenges that they face, leading to a series of publications reporting on the debates and making specific policy interventions
  • Postgraduate teaching and short term courses based at LCC, including a jointly taught Master's programme geared towards mid-career UK and international journalists
  • Media research, with POLIS researchers based at LSE, and working with LCC faculty and practising journalists in London and worldwide.

POLIS will engage both theoretically and practically with UK and world new media, in order to address their dual responsibilities for producing:

  • A citizenry supplied with well-informed and balanced news coverage
  • A marketable news product which informs and entertains as appropriate.

An advisory board has been formed comprising Will Wyatt (ex BBC, president of the Royal Television Society), chair; Philip Gould (Baron Gould of Brookwood), Clive Jones (ITV News), Bronwyn Curtis (Bloomberg), Anne Lapping (Brook Lapping) and Sir Peter Stothard (ex Times and now editor of The TLS).

POLIS will be advertising for a director in January and launching a public lecture series under the banner 'The News We Deserve' in April 2006. Short course teaching will begin in the autumn of 2006.

Paul Charman, head of the Department of Journalism at the University of the Arts London's London College of Communication said: 'In a world where globalisation and the pace of new media technology are transforming our lives more fundamentally than ever before, POLIS will seek to provide a vital international forum for the gathering debate on the changing impact and responsibility of the media.'

Professor Roger Silverstone, convenor of LSE's Department of Media and Communications, said: 'The news media are an indispensable part of our freedom and profoundly shape our understanding of the world. This understanding provides the basis both for resolving the largest of political issues, and for influencing the ways in which, as individuals, we conduct our everyday lives. The bias, tone, balance and impact of the news media are crucial to the way in which we define ourselves. POLIS will make a difference to the practice of journalism both in the UK and world-wide. This is a hugely exciting initiative which brings together two institutions at the top of their game.'

See Polis| and http://www.lcc.arts.ac.uk/| 

For more information, contact Charlie Beckett, LSE, on 020 7955 7695.

Notes

LSE
LSE currently offers six MSc degrees in Media and Communications, Global Media and Communications, Politics and Communications, Media and Communications Regulation and Policy, Gender and the Media, and New Media, Information and Society. The Department of Media and Communications was established in 2003 (though it has existed as a interdepartmental programme since 1999) for and so far, nearly 1,000 students have graduated. It is a diverse student body. Current students are from more than 20 countries, with a significant number of journalists and other media professionals taking a year out. There are currently 35 PhD students researching into a wide range of current problems across the field of media and communications. 

LSE has already hosted many debates around news media, sometimes with the Media Society and with the LSE alumni Media Group, and featuring such speakers as Alastair Campbell, Philip Gould, Peter Mandelson, Peter Bazalgette, Jon Snow, Hosam El-Sokkari and Adam Boulton. It is hoped that an inaugural POLIS event will feature a government minister in summer term 2006.

University of the Arts London LCC
The London College of Communication is the largest constituent College of the University of the Arts London, itself Europe's major centre for education and research in the creative arts and communication. As such, journalism at LCC ranks alongside product and fashion design at UAL's Central Saint Martins College, each subject area having a record of teaching excellence, innovative thinking and close professional links.

Originally focussed upon hands-on training in print journalism (and responsible for launching many of today's leading Fleet Street figures), LCC's 300-strong undergraduate and postgraduate journalism programme now extends to radio, TV, on-line and photojournalism. Undergraduate students produce a weekly newspaper, postgraduates work in BBC local radio, and all are taught by faculty and visiting professionals with recent front-line experience. Pioneering work includes computer-based news reporting simulations, and a seminal analysis of the post-war career patterns of UK journalists.

The formal structure
The POLIS Advisory Board has a remit both to support the professional and academic work of the Institute/Centre and to enhance its fundraising capacity.

Initial funding has been agreed by the two principal institutions. Further funding will be sought both in the form of a commitment to core activities and through organisational/institutional subscription to the programme of seminars and publications. It is expected that the teaching will become self-funding over time and that research will be conducted on the basis of project funding.

The post of director will be advertised in January 2006. The administrative headquarters will be at LSE, the teaching base (and the location for all its practice-based teaching) will be at the LCC, with debates and lectures held in both institutions.

What does POLIS mean?
The origin of the word is the idea of the 'city-state'. The Greek Polis was the site of debate, discussion of current affairs and political judgement. It was where private individuals became citizens. The name POLIS refers to the continuing centrality of public debate for national and global citizenship and the continuing centrality of the news media for its 21st century manifestation.

5 December 2005

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