“George Orwell Invented Journalism Studies”
An interview with Prof. Richard Lance Keeble, a self-defined “hackademic”
To inaugurate our series of conversations with scholars in journalism studies with a view to securing some useful insights into the history and practice of journalism education, Prof. Richard Lance Keeble appeared an obvious choice. Now an Honorary Professor at Liverpool Hope University, Prof. Keeble was first director of the International Journalism MA, then director of the Journalism and Social Science BA, at City University, London (1984-2003). He was then appointed Professor of Journalism (2003-present) at Lincoln University where he also became acting head of the Lincoln School of Journalism (2010-2013) and later a Visiting Professor at Liverpool Hope University (2015-2019). Prof. Keeble has been the recipient of prestigious and distinguished prizes, namely the National Teaching Fellowship Award (2011) and the Lifetime Achievement Award for services to journalism education (2014), the latter bestowed by the Association for Journalism Education in the UK.
Parallel to his academic career, Prof. Keeble has always been a practising journalist. On completion of his studies in Modern History at Keble College, Oxford University (1967-70), he started a career in journalism, first as sub editor at the Nottingham Guardian Journal/Evening Post (1970-73) and then at the Cambridge Evening News (1973-77). He was deputy editor, then editor, of The Teacher, the weekly newspaper of the National Union of Teachers (1977-84). His dual pedigree in journalism, as a practitioner and a professor, led him to take on many editorial responsibilities. He is emeritus editor of Ethical Space: The International Journal of Communication and Ethics and joint editor of George Orwell Studies and is also on the board of an impressive number of journals, among which are Journalism Studies, Digital Journalism, Journalism Education, International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics, Media Ethics, Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, to name just a few. Prof. Keeble was also Chair of the Orwell Society1 (2013-2020) and has authored or edited no less than 44 books. They include Ethics for Journalists and The Newspapers Handbook,2 respectively on their second and fifth editions, as well as several volumes on George Orwell, investigative journalism, and the British media.
It was an honour and privilege to talk to Prof. Keeble in a phone interview on March 25, 2021. The conversation was transcribed while some passages were edited for clarity. I hereby express my immense gratitude for his time, generosity, expertise, and humour. It is such a thrill to start our series of interviews in a way that only makes us want more such conversations.