Greetings for MMP-students, Volda University College, Aasentunet, June 7th, 2019

And I really hope that You also will remember this celebration, this party, as happy day of celebration, of well-earned congratulations. 

And if You in some mysterious way should suddenly feel an inrestible urge to change your preferred tongue to nynorsk, don’t resist, just go with the flow, join the ranks following Ivar Aasen. 

When I was a media student i 1987-1989, there was no such thing as master in media studies. So as I wanted to study media later, I had to go the University for a theoretical study of mass communication. A few of my fellow students would enter a one-year course in documentary film. This was the careful start of of it all, of the masters study you now have completed. In 2012 I became the first professor with the department of media and journalism, and at least one professor of ones own was a necessity for the accreditation of the first masters degree to be accepted: Documentary and Journalism – dokumentar og journalistikk. 

In 2016-2017 the media department reached the conclusion that the masters degree should be available for all bachelor degrees, not only for journalists, as well as for international students. So at breakneck speed a new accreditation process was performed – and with success! The evaluation committee accepted the plans, and in hindsight it’s almost incredible how fast the accreditation was earned and how fast students were recruited and the whole thing started out. 

I know from reading the students evaluation in the survey «Studiebarometeret» that not everything was ship shape from day one. Professor Paul Bjerke has also mentioned how You students have been raising points of criticism. But I’m very proud of You, as Paul said You  have always pointed to solution of problems. I do hope the enthusiasm of the staff and their dedication for teaching have made up for the points of criticism. And that the overall evaluation now at the end of the journey is a positive one. But please: Keep on telling us how we can improve. We want to constantly grow better. 

Returning to the 2017-accreditation and the evaluation-process, one thing really has changed since 2012: The number of professors by the department now was no problem at all. There are several professors at the departement – each of them recognized experts in their field. I do  hope and trust this is a positive development which will continue in the future. 

But, there is one piece of careful criticism in the commitees evalution that could be worth remembering. The committee said: 

«Be aware of the balance regarding gender within the staff.»

It is a well established fact that media not only is a mere reflection of important issues and social structures in society. Far from that. Media also will present a world-view, give us ideas of how the world works, and maybe exaggerate existing images of who and what is important – and who is in power. So when maybe 75 percent of people presented in media, sources, are men – there is still much to be done. And the same applies to university staff.

This college has had a majority of female students for a hundred years. Only the last few years have we seen that females have reached a majority of the staff of the university college. But among full professors we still see a clear majority of men. 

The last few years the department have recruited more and more women, and is closing the gap as compared to the development in media as well as compared to the other departments by the Volda University College. Again: This is a positive trend, and I hope it will continue. 

So what kind of media future are You entering? 

I wish I could tell You so. This is the million dollar question. The word «disruption» is often used to describe a development in which old and established media companies and institutions are crumbling and maybe disappearing, while other are suddenly emerging. Disruption brings both destruction and new possibilities. 

One former dean with the department placed the responsibility for You to find a job only on Your self: – There is always a job for good people, he used to say. 

I think we should be a little more analytical.

The media tools, distribution channels and knowledge of mediated communication in general has been lifted out of the realms of powerful media corporations and has become available for anyone. This should be a good thing. A professional videocamera would cost maby more money than the journalist – the operator of the camera – made in a year some 20-30 years ago. Today the videocamera in an iphone probably has better picture quality than the professional cameras of Yesterday. The distribution channels used to be available only for state broadcasters or owners of printing presses. Today Youtube, Facebook and blogs are available for nothing. Thirdly the knowledge of how media works has been turned into common knowledge. Any high school student knows a bit about theories of media influence. 

So where does bring the professional media master?

I will say that as the tools, channels and knowledge of media is becoming available, media also saturates all aspects of life. Meaning that for schools, the government, businesses and organisations – dealing with or producing media output has become necessary – essential – for status and survival. 

So the number of journalists in traditional media businesses is surely being reduced – sometimes by brute force. But in other parts of society there is an eager demand for media production. 

Small and medium-sized businesses as well as start-ups have an important role in this respect.

And also in Volda we find interesting business of this kind. 
At Sunnmøre Kulturnæringshage in Volda a number of small start-ups and a little bit more established companies are to be find. Do drop in – they might round. Maybe there is a match between You and the startups? Several of these companies are making the most out of the combination of media knowledge and local advantages – such as spectacular scenery of mountains, fjord and sea. 

And as You probably have heard – both James Bond and Marvels Black Widow has recently visited our region, for precisely these reasons. And the best TV-Series in Norway in 2018: Heimebane, was recently shot close by us in Ulsteinvik. I’m happy to see that several students and staff contributed in that project. We’re all proud of You!

So for each and evey one of You: I do hope that You will make the most out of the knowledge, the friendships and the experience of have spent two years or more in Volda!

As You now know: Volda is the place You will never forget. 

Skrevet av

Johann Roppen

Professor dr.polit, rektor ved Høgskulen i Volda frå 1.8.2015.