Thursday, April 10, 2014

Poynter study: Gap still exists between educators, professonals on j-skills

I've just started a Poynter webinar on the latest round of its study that journalists will need in the future.

The study (PDF) reveals the same kind of gap between educators and professionals that we've seen elsewhere (See Journalism and Mass Communication Educator for several similar academic studies.) But what's interesting is that educators seem to value multimedia skills like photo, audio and video than professionals.

The report quotes Tom Huang, Sunday and enterprise editor of the Dallas Morning News: "[I]f I had to choose, I'd first choose journalists with 'traditional' skills and then train them on digital skills."

Fair enough. The bugger is how to do both in the limited time we have with students who come unprepared (I'll let others debate whether that should be "increasingly") with basic skills in language and a basic lack of curiosity and drive (the absolute basic necessity for a reporter). By the time we get over that hump, the time to teach the wide range of other skills.

And while I appreciate Huang's suggestion that he or his organization would train them, too often that is not happening -- most of the editors I talk to want the complete package.

Karen Magnuson, editor and VP-news at the Democrat and Chronicle, embodied that view:
Educators may think all of those things are important but the results
coming out of colleges are very mixed,” she said in an email. “My
personal experience with journalism grads is that they fall into one of
two categories: solid writers/reporters with limited digital skill sets or
multimedia journalists who are great with video but don’t understand how
to work a beat or dig much deeper than what’s given in a press release or
press conference. Both types are problematic in today’s newsrooms. We
need it all!”
 I find it interesting that throughout the report, independent journalists align more closely with educators. I'm tempted to suggest that perhaps the freelancers have a better understanding of the wider media ecosystem because they have to swim in all of it. Your thoughts?

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