Margaret Simons writes:


The Age has poached a new
staff member from academia – the Discipline Leader of the journalism
program at RMIT University, Matthew Ricketson.

Ricketson, one of a number of new appointments to be announced in tomorrow’s Age,
will be Media and Communications editor. He will be a break from the
usual inside-knowledge/friend-of-the-boss style of media analysis
epitomised by Mark Day in The Australian, and it will be interesting to see what an academic journalist brings to the mess of politics, money and power.

Certainly
Ricketson will face hostility and scepticism. Most Australian newsrooms
remain anti-intellectual and suspicious of journalism schools – whereas
in the US it is common for journalists to move freely between industry
and academy. Ricketson says he hopes his appointment will prove to
industry sceptics that journalism schools are “not full of broken down
old hacks, wannabes and never weres.”

The RMIT course is one of
very few with a small modicum of street-cred in an industry where it is
still commonplace to bag university courses and extol – with some
nostalgia – the good ‘ol school of hard knocks.

Ricketson’s
departure is part of a drain of industry experience from the troubled
RMIT over the last 18 months. Muriel Porter left last year and has just
released her book
on the Anglican Church. Doug Weller left to do private media training.
Sybil Nolan left to join Melbourne University Press. Nick Richardson
left after only a short period to go to a senior position at Leader
Newspapers.

Declaration: Margaret Simons does casual teaching at RMIT.

Peter Fray

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