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Daily Mail’s outrage over new MA in Social Media

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A minor-storm erupted last week regarding the launch of the MA in Social Media by Birmingham City University.

Described inaccurately by the  Daily Mail as
a  "Masters degree in Facebook" this was a cue for references to
"Mickey Mouse degrees", "ex-Poly students" and "tax payers money +
drains" etc etc……[Feel free to complete].

My favourite comment on the Daily Mail site was from "Paul", who (apparently) lives in Los Angeles. So incensed by the launch of an MA (not even from a university in his own country), that "Paul"  forgot how to spell…

"What unbelievable bovine,equine and Yak excremnet! i guess this proves
people can get more stupid than they are mow."– Paul, Los Angeles USA, 29/3/2009 22:31

"Paul from Los Angeles" is clearly an idiot (where are those moderators when you need them?). And whilst the Daily Mail's reporting could easily be dismissed as "lazy journalism", sadly, it reflects a wider misunderstanding of the role of higher education in the mainstream media which dates back to the 70s when universities were attacked for teaching sociology.  

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3 Responses to Daily Mail’s outrage over new MA in Social Media

  1. Francis Clarke April 7, 2009 at 2:07 am #

    Remember that question you asked us about why it is that young people don’t read newspapers? Hi.
    The Daily Nail is famous to anyone my age who is a fan of video games, music, films or anything with even a remote association with youth culture. It’s particularly liberal use of the truth is genuinely entertaining. It loves to scare parents, mostly. The less actual news involved, the more terrifying they become. It’s branded no less than five video games as ‘the most violent game ever’, so this kind of story comes as no surprise at all.
    Social Media is big business. Billions and billions of dollars pass through sites like Twitter and Facebook. I’m less sure about the positive applications of sites like Bebo, but I doubt there’s a whole unit on it. There is massive untapped potential in social networks. I’m not sure about journalism but from a marketing perspective, it’s gold dust. I don’t think Hickman did himself any favours though, coming out with crap like ‘It’s not for freaks or IT geeks.’ doesn’t exactly sell your course to people that understand computers.
    I also hate the whole ‘mickey mouse’ degree garbage, but then again it’s easy to see where it came from. I mean social media, fair enough. Comedy Writing though? I think the line has to be drawn somewhere.

  2. Byron Muffin April 16, 2009 at 1:04 pm #

    Birmingham CU will be able to pull in all sorts of local techies as visiting lecturers, as the city is abuzz with them – just look at the blogs. One of the strongest scenes outside London. That was no doubt a factor in decising to put the course on.

  3. Pow365 April 16, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    Thanks Byron, I agree that Birmingham has become a significant hub. There is also that all-important academic underpinning – in short, there is enough easily for a one year MA.
    But the geek stuff is a bit worrying. I agree with Francis, I feel that students often want more of this rather than less. They are not going to teach people to be programmers, but a working knowledge of databases, coding etc would surely help.