Tag Archives: journalism

Complete your university studies like no one else

How is it possible to graduate from a Master’s program in three years with 44 extra credits, while holding three jobs? And do this in a country where only a fifth of all university students reach the target time of five years? I will tell you.

Instagram @hannatuulonen, September 1st 2014: This is a new day and my first day at the uni, and I’m already thinking about my Bachelor’s thesis. #twoyearbachelor #icandothis

Almost three years has passed since I posted the picture above on Instagram. It was my first day at the University of Tampere, the day I started my journalism and communication studies in Finland. Already back then I knew I wanted to do something that I had heard only rumors of. I wanted to finish my university studies under the target time of five years.

Understandably, my goal was difficult to achieve and I faced a lot of questioning, especially since I had three jobs at the same time. My study advisors, teachers and fellow students were not used to someone like me. In Finland, students usually don’t graduate in the target time, not to speak about being quicker.

But that is exactly what I did.

Instagram @hannatuulonen, May 28th 2016: Two years ago, when I started my uni studies, I decided I’m gonna make it in two years. And so I did. Now it’s time for me to move on. With me I’m taking a Bachelor’s certificate. #twoyearbachelor #ididit

Instagram @hannatuulonen, August 29th 2016:  In autumn 2014 I posted a declaration that I was going finish my Bachelor’s degree within two years. Today, two years later, I’m at the doorstep of a new pursuit: Master’s degree in one year. #twoyearbachelor #oneyearmaster #thisisgu

Pulling of something like this is not an easy task. However, I had some benefits that made things easier.

One was the fact that I had completed all the basic courses at the open university before starting my actual university studies. At the time I didn’t realize how much of an advantage it was for me, yet during the first year I quickly realized its value as I was able to participate in second-year courses.

Another benefit was the Tampere university’s preeminent system of free minor studies. Basically, I could enroll myself on any course from any faculty and make it a part of my Bachelor’s studies. Thanks to this, I completed 224 study credits (ECTS) within two years instead of the 180 credits required within three years.

Thirdly, having a possibility to complete a Master’s thesis in Sweden in one year was an opportunity like any other.

Having these possibilities and benefits were only a small part of the whole picture, though. To be able to to do what I did a lot of work and planning is required. Here are some of my tips and tricks, something that took me several years of modifying. It required self-discipline as well as knowing my own strengths and weaknesses. Being organized is going to require the same things from you.

Besides studies, these rules can also be applied to a freelancer’s job.

Notebooks

I carry notebooks with me wherever I go. All four of them.

To me, notebooks are like folders: one notebook for one category of thoughts, or, in the case of university studies, one notebook per  course. As an average university student has four courses per period, I had eight to ten. Keeping track of all their deadlines and lectures in an organized way was a key to starting and completing all of them.

The important thing is not to have a notebook or several. The important thing is the purpose they serve: clearing the cache inside your head.

The human brain is amazing in how many things it can handle at the same time but what it is less good at is holding on to all those threads of thoughts. Trying to remember everything eats up a huge part of your energy and efficiency. Stressing about that you forgot something does the same thing. Getting ideas, thoughts, feelings and unfinished processes safely stored helps you keep focus on what you want.

Synchronized calendars

At the moment, my online calendar consists of six synchronized, color-coded calendars. Having different timetables synced helps me and others keep track of when and where we need to be or what needs to done by what deadline.

The calendars consist of two different kind of markings: time-bound events (e.g. meet an interviewee at 3pm) and day-bound events (e.g. buy flight tickets to Helsinki). Time-bound events are what dictate the daily schedules and day-bound events are the to-do list.

To-do lists are handy, but only if you make them right. Instead of having everything as one long overwhelming list of tasks, divide your tasks evenly throughout the week. Set a deadline and stick to it. A daily to-do list will help you prioritize and keep your mind on what’s important. Especially essay and exam deadlines.

Spreadsheets

One tool that planner freaks like me use is the spreadsheet. Especially long-term projects and courses that last for more than one period, it might be difficult to keep track of everything only with the help of a calendar. And this is where spreadsheets step in.

The picture below shows a spreadsheet in which I kept track of my courses and credits. Everything needed can be seen on one climbs. This would be impossible to comprehend and update only with the help of a calendar.

Take to notion that having a properly functioning spreadsheet needs constant updating. It might feel like a boring thing to do and you might think that you can do it later. Don’t. You’ll lose track of what you have already updated and checking up on things two months old eats up more of your time than giving two minutes a day to one simple update.

Common to all tools

Never delete or destroy anything. These tools are not meant only for keeping you on track right here and right now. They are also tools for you to check on what you have done and tools to help you get back to what you need to remember.

Sometimes getting started is the most difficult part. Instead of pondering whether you should do something or what you should do, just do it. It takes less time than wondering around. Trust me. And once you get to doing, keep going. No task, thought or event is too small to for these tools and rules. Write everything you need either in your notebooks (or what ever suits you best), calendar or spreadsheet.

Instagram @hannatuulonen, June 3rd 2017: ¡¡ Masters of Investigative Journalism !! Graduation day. You haven’t heard the last of us and we haven’t heard the last of each other. #perceftion #twoyearbachelor #oneyearmaster

A journalist’s job is not only a job. It’s a profession that doesn’t count hours. A freelance journalist cannot expect workdays to be 8 hours long because sometimes even 12 hours aren’t enough. I feel the same about studying. Now I realize that not everyone is like me. Not everyone has the same desire and passion for studying that I do, and thus these tools and rules don’t work for everyone. That’s okay. I don’t expect the same things from others that I expect from myself.

Yet I feel that it is important for me to show that university studies don’t have to be dragged out necessities that throughout the years evolve from something manageable to something tedious. When only 10 to 20 percent of all university students in Finland are able to grduate in the target time of five years, I can’t help but think that there’s a problem – in the university system, society or the students themselves. Which one are you going to change?

Hanna Tuulonen

The writer started her university studies in 2014, graduated as Bachelor of Social Science in 2016 from the University of Tampere in Finland and as Master of Social Science in 2017 from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. Currently she works as an editor-in-chief and as a translator. Find her portfolio and work samples at Göteborgin Sivukonttori and at Varusmies-lehti.

Follow the Nordic journalism research

Want to start following the Nordic journalism and journalism education research more systematically? Or narrow down the monitoring of international studies to those conducted in the Nordic countries? Here are some essentials to teachers and students.

What makes it often difficult to follow research related to journalism, journalism research and journalism education is the fact that the research is typically scattered around different disciplines such as sociology, political science, philosophy, educational sciences, cultural studies and, for example, economics and business studies.

In today’s global culture it may also be increasingly irrelevant to draw lines between ”Nordic” and ”non-Nordic”. In a world of complex relationships, ”Norden” is becoming more and more interlaced with other geographically and culturally defined areas, or less relevant in favour of a more ”international” scope of attention and interests. This does, however – and luckily – not undermine the distinct Nordic identity; it may just make it slightly more difficult to trace the work of the Nordic-based scholars.

As many of the academic journals nowadays follow an Open Access policy, original studies are easy to use on courses or for purposes of self-study. The communication about the Nordic-originated research has increased, enabled by a number of different platforms and organisations. In this post I want to collect some relevant sources for those who want to start keeping an eye on the Nordic media and communication research.

Academic journals

The most important sources for following recent research are, of course, the academic journals. They can be found in the national databases (The Danish National Research DatabaseJufo in Finland, DHB in Norway). A common Nordic database is currently under construction.

Besides the national journals typically given out by the researchers’ associations and the international journals open to scholars all around the globe, there are academic publications with a distinctively Nordic scope. Below is a list of the academic peer-reviewed journals published in English and/or Scandinavian languages, relevant to and influential within the field of media and communication research, and, more specifically, research on journalism and journalism education.

Media and communication studies, social sciences:

  • Journalistica is a peer-reviewed journal in journalism research, published in Scandinavian languages and English, funded by Danish journalism education institutions.
  • MedieKultur is a peer-reviewed journal of media and communication research, published in Scandinavian languages and English by SMiD, the Association of Media Researchers in Denmark.
  • Nordicom Review is a peer-reviewed journal published in English and given out by the Nordic Information Centre for Media and Communication Research Nordicom.
  • Nordisk kulturpolitisk tidskrift is a peer-reviewed journal on cultural policy published in Scandinavian languages and English, funded by Nordic research institutions.
  • Norsk medietidskrift is a peer-reviewed journal published mainly in Norwegian but also in other Scandinavian languages and English by NML, the Norwegian Association of Media Researchers .
  • Northern Lights: Film and Media Studies Yearbook is a peer-reviewed journal focused on research on film, television and new media, published in English.
  • WiderScreen is a peer-reviewed journal on multimedial, audiovisual and digital media culture, published in English and Finnish.

Journalism/media education and media literacy:

Cultural research

  • 16:9 is a Danish peer-reviewed journal focused on film studies, published in Danish and given out in Aarhus.
  • Culture Unbound: Journal of Current Cultural Research is a peer-reviewed journal in cultural studies, published in English by three research units at the Linköping University.
  • Nordic Journal of Aesthetics is a peer-reviewed journal focused on research within arts and aesthetics with a Nordic scope, published in English.
  • Sensorium Journal is a peer-reviewed journal for interdisciplinary questions on aesthetics, technology and materiality, organized around the Sensorium Network at the Linköping University.
  • Nordic Journal of Literacy Research is a peer-reviewed journal for culturally oriented literacy research, which includes the research on reading, writing and literacy practices and education, published in Scandinavian languages and English.

Research on technology and innovations:

Gender studies:

Organisations, networks and platforms

Besides the established large Nordic organizations for cooperation, such as the Nordic Council of Ministers and its infrastructure for the funding, administration and development of research (e.g. NordForsk), there are a number of research-related platforms and networks.

Selected individual bloggers

Nowadays, the numerous platforms of social media may provide us with a direct contact to an individual media or communication scholar. The use of social media for scholarly purposes has become more popular in the Academy; however, it is still not very easy to find, for example, bloggers specialized in media and/or communication research. Maybe it is just that the cobbler’s children are the worst shod, as the old saying goes?

Here are some examples to begin with:

  • From Denmark: Active bloggers include, for example, the journalism researcher Aske Kammer at the University of Copenhagen, Associate Professor Torill Elvira Mortensen at the IT University of Copenhagen, and Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Director of Research at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, the UK.
  • From Norway: Associate Professor in Digital Culture Hilde G. Corneliussen at the University of Bergen, Associate Professor Bente Kalsnes at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, and Professor in Digital Culture Jill Walker Rettberg at the University of Bergen.
  • From Finland: Almost all the Finnish media scholars blog in Finnish, such as the co-blogging media professors Janne Seppänen from the University of Tampere and Esa Väliverronen from the University of Helsinki, as well as, for example, the political historian Mari K. Niemi who blogs for the magazine Suomen Kuvalehti.
  • From Sweden: Most of the blogging journalism and media researchers are gathered to the blog portal Medieforskarna which hosts 17 blogs altogether. In addition, Professor of Political Science Henrik Ekengren Oscarsson blogs on electoral studies, and researchers in political science have a blog community of their own, Politologerna.

In addition, you should not forget the active tweeters in the Nordic countries. On Twitter you can find research-related topics, among other things, with the hashtags #medieforskning, #jagforskar,  #journalistik, #Nordpub#NordicomOA, and the varying conference hashtags (e.g. #NordMedia2017, #NordMedia2015, #Nordmedia2013 etc.).

Do you miss something essential on the list? Please do not hesitate to mail your suggestions to the author.

Maarit Jaakkola

Maarit Jaakkola works as a postdoctoral researcher at Nordicom at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and as a lecturer in journalism at the University of Tampere, Finland. You can reach her at maarit.jaakkola@nordicom.gu.se.