I have a bachelor’s degree in media and communication from Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia. Before that, I got a diploma in the same disciplines from Melbourne Institute of Technology (now called Deakin college).
I don’t know how other educational institutions teach media and communication. But, in those particular places, it was quite all over the place. Interdisciplinary, if I want to sound fancy.
They made sure students studied as many aspects of media and communication as possible. On the practical side, I learned the basics of PR, marketing, journalism, advertising and press release writing.
On the “useless” side, I learned about the cultural aspects of cinema, masculinity and race in cinema, philosophical aspects of globalised media, interpreting imagery, digital media theories and basics of animation and digital photography.
Obviously, we can all agree the practical skills are useful. The validity of “useless” ones, however, is so hard to defend.
The “useless” classes helped me perceiving the world through different lenses and taught me how to read between the lines. But, the abstract nature of the subject matters make them hard to comprehend; some people may consider them results of delusional and paranoid thinking.
It has been years since I graduated. But, it was only recently I realised the “useful” knowledge validates the “useless” one.
Those “useful” classes taught me how to influence the masses to my own benefits; with the right languages, imagery and angles, I can do so without technically lying and spreading misinformation. With journalism specifically, I was taught how to factually report a story by not only employing a neutral language, but also being tactful with the angles; no matter how factual and neutral the report is, its angle still affects how the public perceives it.
They compel me to not take the surface for granted… the exact thing media and communication theories have been telling me all along!
I hate myself for this late realisation. For years, I was frustrated that I couldn’t convince others to acknowledge the validity of those abstract theories, not realising the practical skills I learned validate them and have always been!
I don’t think this easily applies to other social science and humanities disciplines. While they certainly have their practical sides, the ones of media and communication are far more clear-cut and tangible.
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