UTS is Australia’s most vibrant young university. Have a look here.
I joined the staff as head of journalism and professor of the practice in November 2015.
I could wax lyrical about what I intend to do in the role. I’ll provide updates. Meantime, the following day one address to the staff may prove a useful guide.
I’d hope this is the first of many productive conversations.
I am not a fan of endless or constant meetings. But it is important for us to meet on a regular basis and I’d want to have a one-on-ones with all of you over the next few weeks.
My commitment to you is that I will strive to be collaborative, forthright, open-minded and accessible.
My request is that you strive to be the same with me. I am approaching this job with one guiding question in mind: What does success look like?
But first it might be useful to explain why I wanted this job and have a shot at explaining why I am sitting here and not anyone else.
To me, this is about embracing the future of journalism.
A future that is digital, innovative and entrepreneurial, that is social, shareable and searchable and that is multiplatform, multidiscipline and driven by technological change.
A future in which many UTS journalism graduates will either want or have to make their own jobs.
A future that’s grounded in sound practice and research but mindful of what industry wants (and will want), what other disciplines, institutions and the broader academy can offer, what knowledge needs to be unearthed and, most importantly, what the students need.
This job comes in two parts: practice and research.
As you all know better than me, from the VC down, UTS needs to be at forefront of both. I want to make a meaningful contribution to the future of journalism — and right now this is the most exciting place to do it.
I want to take risk. I want you to do the same.
UTS journalism has a remarkable legacy. But as you know it can’t stay still. None of us can.
That’s a question more better answered by others but here’s my take in two words: change and leadership.
I’ve been in on-the-floor leadership positions since 1990 and I’ve been walking into new leadership environments for about a decade, since I first addressed the Sunday Age as editor and someone in the back of the room muttered, ‘he’s very Sydney, isn’t he.’ As a pom, I took that as a compliment.
As for change, let me say I don’t believe in change for the sake of it but there will be change. Renewal is inevitable.
There will be new people, new approaches and new ways of doing things. I am hopeful that there will be new money.
I don’t have details here with me today.
How could I? I need to listen first. But I am a quick learner.
I have ingested the reviews, the audits and benchmark studies.
I have spent time with several key leaders in the field, read Graeme Turner’s ERA critique of journalism research and will spend the first part of next year as a Tow-Knight fellow looking in part at how US j-schools are re-inventing themselves.
My mind is open. I want your ideas.
There’s plenty to think and talk about. There is and will be plenty to act upon.
I have already been talking ad hoc to the industry, other stakeholders and investigating what other j-schools do and how other disciplines can be our partners.
I already have 2-3 proposals for collaboration. This is a period of innovation, appetite for risk and as much as time allows, reflection.
I spoke to Paul Murphy, head of the MEAA.
He said: “Everything we do is geared to the part of the industry that’s shrinking. We’ve got a lot to offer but we don’t have a way of offering it to the new parts of the industry.”
There are powerful market forces at work. It is counterproductive to think we or the students we teach are immune.
Fortunately, and to varying degrees, there’s an acceptance in the industry and I presume the academy of the need for change.
We have a vital part to play in that equation, in both practical and theoretical terms. There is much goodwill towards UTS’s j-school.
As I’ve been thinking and talking about this job for the past three months or so, it’s clear to me that many people are looking to UTS for leadership.
What does success look like?
Here’s my first take:
1. The curriculum is aligned with the goals of UTS, the faculty and school.
2. Digital, multiplatform journalism is fully integrated into what we do.
3. We have the right courses and outcomes especially in the PG area.
4. We know what happens to our graduates — and learn from that.
5. Research output meets and exceeds benchmarks.
6. We become known as a place of innovation and experimentation.
7. We collaborate with other disciplines at UTS; the graduates are literate in numeracy, data, AI, coding, business and law.
8. We grow the revenue pool available to the school and students.
9. We expand existing links to industry and other stakeholders.
10. And that the j-school is staffed and equipped to meet the above goals.
I am very happy to be here: happier still to be starting this journey today and, as I mentioned, to kick off this conversation.