Teaching Examples


The changing skill set for journalists
March 26, 2007, 5:02 pm
Filed under: business, education, journalism, teaching

Poached and condensed from Larry Dignan, writing at ZDNet (“How journalism education should change“):

Teach entrepreneurship: I can’t emphasize this point enough…. Most journalists will ultimately wind up working for themselves. Why not teach them how? Why can’t journalism schools offer seed money to content startups? [Does he think we have money? Has he seen what a j-school pays its adjuncts?] …

Embed online tools throughout the curriculum: Scoble’s argument that no journalists are being trained for online is complete bunk. However, most schools still segment folks — magazine focus, TV focus, newspapers etc. All of those specialties should be infused with online learning.

Get real pros to teach you: … Many J-school profs are way removed from reality. Even worse, many of them haven’t been real journalists in a while — ask them to write a story in 5 minutes with frequent updates and they’d crack….

Remember the basics: … Talking to real humans is important. Interviewing techniques matter. Court documents matter….

Next up, a summary of what journalism students should know now, from the CMA conventions in New York (via Bryan Murley Ralph Braseth):

  • A new skills set is demanded for the best jobs and for leadership positions.
  • The days of five clips getting a student a good job are over at major media outlets.
  • The best jobs out there require a strong knowledge of journalism and technology.
  • A digital portfolio will become commonplace.
  • Students who can shoot photos, video, collect audio, edit and post to the Web will have employers knocking on their door.
  • Students must have a better sense of the economics and business of media.
  • Media must embrace the computer science/engineering and business disciplines.
  • Every student should be a serious blogger.
  • The pace of change is quickening.
  • New media is not a fad, but a fact.
  • Entrepreneurship in media is needed desperately.
  • Marketing, advertising and PR are way ahead of journalism in adopting innovation.

I realize this should all be obvious, but is it obvious to all students — and all journalism educators — even now?

If it’s so obvious, why are these skills and practices absent from so many journalism classes in a typical university program?

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8 Comments so far
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I agree with you, Mindy. These things should be obvious. But it’s amazing how many people still operate in a vacuum. Even when we loaded a day with the likes of Andrew DeVigal, Paul Conley, David Cohn of NewAssignment.net and adobe’s best sound/video evangelist, we had about 40 students/advisers in any session in New York last week.

The only thing we can do is keep pressing on spreading the word.

Comment by Murley

University and colleges tend to be 5-10 years behind the times. Now with the rapid pace of the news business, it is more apparent how outdated they are. The bigger problem may be that those that actually run newspapers – editors and publishers, who can’t read the writing on the wall and haven’t embraced new ways. Denial is not a river in Africa….

Comment by Francis Specker

“Get real pros to teach you: … Many J-school profs are way removed from reality. Even worse, many of them haven’t been real journalists in a while — ask them to write a story in 5 minutes with frequent updates and they’d crack….”

I couldn’t agree with this more, but we’ve discussed this before.

Comment by jkl34

Ok… Well, evidently I can’t use my gmail account with this… That’s pretty lame, Google.

jkl34 = Will Sullivan’s junk mail account from Journerdism.com

Comment by jkl34

Sorry, Will — up until a couple of weeks ago, I allowed anonymous comments on this blog. And I spent about an hour every day cleaning out the spam touting weight-loss programs, stock investments, etc. So I had to turn them off. Sad, but true.

Comment by Mindy McAdams

No biggie.

It’s kinda ironic that the swap was to get rid of anonymous posers, but when I try to log into my real account (using my google account with my real name) Google won’t let me. So I have to use my more anonymous “jkl34” account. 🙂 But it’s a google thing I guess.

Comment by jkl34

Just to pick up (belatedly) on the (very important) point re entrepreneurship. I’ve noted the need for ‘intrapreneurship’ in mainstream newsrooms as the managers I encounter in our programme are expected not only to manage the effectiveness and efficiency of existing operations, but also to identify new opportunities to provide value to users.

Please forgive this shameless plug, but because I’m keen to explore this more, I’ve entitled the 6th Journalism Leaders Forum in Preston, ‘Editor as Entreprenuer: Lessons from the Digital Front’ The event on May 15th is free also Webcast live. Participation from the audience is expected (via a chat box). More details at: http://journalismleadersforum.blogspot.com

Francois Nelhdgv

Comment by francoisonline

Technology and multimedia skills are certainly important, but the entrepreneurial aspects are absolutely vital for future journalists. I certainly wish *I* had been given a heads-up on the business/content pressures. I had to learn it the hard way, which I suppose has its virtues, but there’s no reason why J-students can’t enter the workforce with at least a cursory understanding of business models, revenue streams and advertising influences.

The same class — or unit, or lesson — could also incorporate job search strategies. Knowing where to look, who to talk to, and what to search for are all important skills.

Comment by Mac




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