The press is one of the most important support structures for the modern democracy. Journalists function as the voice of the people and, in many cases, serve to hold the government accountable for its actions in policies. With this in mind, the democratization of the world has gone hand-in-hand with an increasing level of freedom of the press.

That being said, Reporters Without Borders indicates that more than a third of the people in the world live in a country or area where there is no freedom of the press. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done across the world, and a new wave of aspiring journalists is rising to the challenge.

HKBU School of Communication

Pic: HKBU School of Communication.

Media professionals have played critical roles in Asia, as economic and governmental reforms continue to sweep through the region. In August of 2012, after the Burmese government suspended the publication rights of two magazines, dozens of journalists organized, gathered signatures and staged a rare public protest. They were successful, and the government lifted the suspension.

This sort of activism is inspiring to journalists around the world. We’re also seeing an increased degree of press autonomy thanks to social media and the Internet, which is notoriously difficult to censor. Along these lines, the stage has been set for a freer and stronger global press in the 21st-century than the world has ever known.

All over Asia, students are setting their sights on earning international credentials in Journalism, media studies and communication. No doubt, the next generation of journalists will operate on a world stage that is even more interconnected than it is now. This is, without a doubt, a promising time for up-and-coming journalists.

Finding the best journalism and media schools
Once you have settled on earning credentials in journalism and media, the next step is to decide where to study. For students in Asia, many of the best options are in the West – particularly in North America or the UK. Internationally speaking, these locations are considered bastions of free press, with a high level of legal protection for journalists and reporters. However, Asian students are also discovering the potential of studying in countries like South Africa, where economic ties with the East are robust.

KwaZulu-Natal University Campus

Pic: KwaZulu-Natal University Campus.

Even so, it is not necessary to travel halfway around the world to enroll in a reputable media and communications program. There are several schools emerging in the East, particularly in Hong Kong, where journalism programs have already been in place for decades. Many of the journalism schools in Asia team up with partner universities in the West, sending their students abroad for one or more semester to gain international exposure.

Deciding which school to settle on can be daunting. However, there are a few hallmarks of an excellent journalism program that should not be overlooked. First of all, the best schools make active use of seasoned professionals. Experience is critical in this field, and students can learn a great deal from professors who have logged time on the front lines of journalists. Successful programs supplement this with visiting lecturers, seminars and workshops throughout the year.

Any program worth its salt is also going to take new media into account. Course offerings should include explorations of social media, Internet-based media and the roles they play in developing current events.

Regents TV Studio

Pic: Regents TV Studio.

The following are among the most attractive journalism and media schools for Asian students:

UNIVERSITY OF KWAZULU-NATAL
The University of KwaZulu-Natal is truly a 21st-century institute. Founded in 2004 through the merger of two former schools, the university embodies a forward-looking enthusiasm and spirit of pre-eminence worthy of its ambition to become the premier university of African scholarship. One of the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s strengths is its commitment to community engagement. The school embraces a strong impetus of province- and nation-building, but this attitude also applies to global communities at large. This sets an ideal tone for exploring the ethics of journalism and the important role that 21st-century information systems play in global communication and development. Read the full profile here…

REGENT’S UNIVERSITY LONDON, REGENT’S SCHOOL OF DRAMA, FILM & MEDIA 
Located at Regent’s University London, Regent’s School of Drama, Film & Media (RSDFM) is a dynamic institute led by some of the world’s foremost academics, specialists and practitioners in creative production. It is operated under one of the leading providers of private higher education in the UK and continues to be a top choice for students from Asia and abroad. It is easy to understand why international students are attracted to RSDFM. Award-winning instruction, prominent work placement opportunities and the chance to live and study in Regent’s Park (one of the most popular Royal Parks in London) are all major selling points for the LSFMP. Read the full profile here…

HONG KONG BAPTIST UNIVERSITY, SCHOOL OF COMMUNICATION
Among Asian students of journalism and media, there is a strong impetus to head to the West and enroll in expensive, high-profile universities in North America and Europe. However, some of the savviest of these students are looking for opportunities in the burgeoning markets of China. In the fields of journalism and communication, Hong Kong Baptist University operates particularly attractive programs. The Hong Kong Baptist University School of Communication was formed in the 1960s at a time when the UK was still administering Hong Kong. Journalism quickly sprang to the top of the university’s offerings. For that reason, many of the best-known journalists and communication practitioners in the region claim HKBU as their alma matter. Read the full profile here…

BIRMINGHAM SCHOOL OF MEDIA
Operated under Birmingham City University in the UK, Birmingham School of Media was one of the first schools to offer media studies in England. It is quickly rising through the rankings and is clearly a leading contender for media studies for students from the UK and abroad. The Guardian’s University Guide compiles data from the National Student Survey and Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) to determine how institutions of higher education in the UK compare to one another. The 2013 guide ranks Birmingham School of Media eighth in the nation, citing a high level of student satisfaction (93%) and graduate employment. In 2012, the school was ranked 12th by the same survey, indicating that there has never been a better time to get on board. Read the full profile here…

Birmingham School of Media

Pic: Birmingham School of Media.

NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY, MEDILL SCHOOL OF JOURNALISM
Located just outside of Chicago, Medill is one of the leading schools of journalism in the US, and it has the accolades to prove it. Since its foundation less than 100 years ago, Medill has been associated with nearly 40 Pulitzer Prizes. Students of the School of Journalism famously travel thousands of miles in pursuit of stories, and as such they graduate with a great deal more experience than their peers.

MURDOCH UNIVERSITY, SCHOOL OF MEDIA, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE
Murdoch University is located in Western Australia in the city of Perth. This was the second university to open in Australia, and the on-site School of Media, Communication and Culture offers one of the most comprehensive journalism programs on the continent. The faculty at the MCC are well-recognized industry leaders, and the facilities that students use during their tenure here are second to none.