University of Canterbury Journalism programme celebrates 50th anniversary

09 August 2019

The University of Canterbury is celebrating 50 years of postgraduate journalism excellence on 7 September, with graduates from all over the world congregating to celebrate the milestone.

  • Journalism

Over the past half-century, hundreds of New Zealand journalists have kicked off their careers with the prestigious University of Canterbury Postgraduate Diploma of Journalism.

The University of Canterbury (UC) is celebrating 50 years of postgraduate journalism excellence on 7 September, with graduates from all over the world congregating to celebrate the milestone.

UC Journalism programme alumni are invited to a cocktail event with guest speaker, GradDipJ alumna and renowned New Zealand broadcaster, Kim Hill in the new UCSA building, Haere-roa, on UC’s Ilam campus, Christchurch.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime reunion with former classmates and tutors.

UC Journalism 50th on Saturday 7 September 2019, 7pm to 11pm, in Haere-roa, UCSA building, 90 Ilam Road, Christchurch. Ticket: $50 + GST and ticketing fee, registrations close 25 August.

History of Journalism at UC

Journalism was first taught at Canterbury from about 1910 but petered out in the early 1950s. It returned in 1969 with the launch of the Graduate Diploma in Journalism, a class of 14, taught by an experienced British journalist named Val Williams and a young law lecturer named John Burrows, press-ganged into teaching media law.

In its early years the course was criticised for not preparing its students for the realities of the workplace. The arrival of a former Times correspondent Brian Priestley in 1975 took the course in a new direction with much greater attention on the basics of news reporting and a close relationship with suburban newspapers in Christchurch. Priestley became a household name with his weekly critique of the media on television’s The Fourth Estate, while John Burrows, went on to become a much-respected professor, who made media law one of his specialist areas.

Jim Tully, who was a student in the class of 1969, built on that early legacy over 25 years. In 2011 he received the award for outstanding achievement at the Canon Media Awards. The citation read: “For 25 years, Jim has inspired and shaped the careers of many of the country’s leading journalists and editors.” Dr Tara Ross (class of ’97) took the helm in 2013 teaching alongside former broadcaster Jo Malcolm (class of ’87) and UC Law Professor Ursula Cheer.

The programme boasts multiple award-winning alumni, including Wolfson Fellows Rebecca Macfie and Martin van Beynen, Fulbright scholar Tess McClure, Nieman Fellow and Washington Post Beijing bureau chief Anna Fifield, and international award-winning broadcasters including Kim Hill and Kathryn Ryan.

The Media and Communication journalism programme at the University of Canterbury (UC) was recognised with an Outstanding Achievement Award at the 2019 Voyager Media Awards in May 2019.

Now, after 50 years, the Postgraduate Diploma will morph into a new journalism programme offered jointly as a graduate diploma and an undergraduate major in UC’s new Bachelor of Communication degree.

For further information please contact:

UC Communications

  • All media enquiries are directed to the UC Communications team.
  • Email media@canterbury.ac.nz for media enquiries (business hours, Monday - Friday)
  • Call 03 369 3631 for media enquiries (business hours, Monday - Friday)
  • Call 027 503 0168 for urgent media enquiries (after-hours, Monday - Sunday)

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