DW Akademie's unique International Media Studies Master's program in Bonn is now also being offered in Istanbul. The new two-year program was launched in the fall of 2014 in cooperation with Istanbul University.
The communications department at Istanbul University is just a few hundred meters
from the Grand Bazaar and the Blue Mosque in Turkey's bustling capital. But
with just one step into the department's foyer, all the commotion fades away. Students waiting for their seminars to begin are passing the time talking to friends or typing on their smartphones while two flat-screen TVs play in the background with
the volume on low.
One of these students is Pinar Çelik, who's taking part in the university's new International Media Studies (IMS) program. The serious-looking 25 year old with long brown hair lights up when the topic turns to the IMS. "I look forward to the seminars every week because I'm learning so much from all the lecturers," she says with a smile. The IMS was launched at Istanbul University in October 2014. It's a unique program on the Bosporus that combines media management, media and development cooperation, communication studies and practical journalism skills. Seminars are held in English by German as well as Turkish lecturers. The program is a joint initiative of Istanbul University, the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences and DW Akademie. It receives support from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
Two Masters degrees
Today's lecture is part of a seminar block on media management. It's being conducted by Professor Christoph Schmidt, head of DW Akademie's Educational Programs, and he's just fl own in from Bonn. "The project intensifies the cooperation between German and Turkish universities and is also a superb addition to DW Akademie's other projects and activities," he says. He is pleased that the IMS is now being offered as a dual degree program. When students graduate from the program they'll receive a Master of Arts degree from Istanbul University as well one from the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences.
Professor Schmidt's specialties are media economics and media management, and he's used to breaking new ground. In 2009 he launched the bilingual (German-English) International Media Studies Master's program in Bonn, also in partnership with the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences and Bonn University. "It's a unique concept because it combines media skills with a theoretical foundation. When our students graduate, they're well prepared to work in fields requiring solid media expertise," according to Schmidt.
Waking international interest
The successful IMS concept is attracting international attention. From 2011 to 2014, Schmidt and his team helped develop and support a Master's program in business administration and media management at the German University in Cairo. That program is now running independently. Other universities in Kenya, Colombia, Indonesia and Myanmar have also expressed interest in the IMS model. Since the seminars and lectures at Istanbul University are held in English, students need a good command of the language. Other prerequisites are a bachelor's degree and previous media experience.
Those aren't obstacles for Pinar Çelik. She has a B.A. in English literature and experience as a print journalist. She was inspired by the Master's program right from the start and is still as enthusiastic as ever. "I really enjoy the discussions with the professors," she says, adding that the program is exactly what she was looking for. It off ers her a chance to further develop her journalistic skills, while reinforcing her practical experience with a solid foundation.
Lack of press freedoms
Çelik hasn't yet decided on the area she'd later like to work in, but is sure the dual degree will open doors in the future. She also appreciates the fact that her university is closely cooperating with German academic institutions. Çelik was working for an international magazine in Switzerland when the Gezi Park protests against Turkey's government broke out in 2013. The demonstrations got her thinking and she eventually decided to go back to her native country. "Apart from a few exceptions there's no independent or reliable media in Turkey, the government has a tight hold on things," the 25 year old states with conviction. In addition to her IMS studies, Çelik co-edits the online newspaper Aydinlik Daily News. She says it's one of the few truly critical media outlets in Turkey, but admits that her work there requires treading a fine line. "We are aware that our reporting can have negative repercussions for us, and it can also effect our families," she says. As a result, self-censorship is common, she adds.
#Despite the oppressive media environment in Turkey Pinar Çelik says she's confident about the future. With her German degree in hand, she thinks she might head to Germany to get additional professional experience. She's also certain that programs like the IMS will, over the long term, have a positive impact on Turkey's media landscape.