The Journalism Gap Between Education and Professional Practice
Journalism education needs to incorporate more “new skills” to catch up with what is expected of the next generation of journalists. This is an observation based on a comparison of skills emphasized by media professionals and skills being taught in journalism schools.
25 Essential Skills for Student Journalists
I have seen many lists, in various forms, of skills expected of future journalists; I found this list of 25 skills proposed at a training seminar to be more inclusive and relevant. This seminar, Teachapalooza 2012, is organized by Poynter and attended by journalism educators and professionals.
For purpose of comparison and analysis, I roughly put these skills into two categories: “Old” Skills and “New” Skills. As one can see, the “old” skills are those that have traditionally been taught in J-schools; the “new” skills are the emerging digital skills.
I then compared this list with my survey of multimedia journalism degree programs in U.S., and tried to answer two questions: (1) how many journalism programs are incorporating “new” skills in the curriculum, and (2) specifically, how much of the “new” skills are incorporated in the programs that do offer multimedia journalism courses.
Observation and conclusion: “New” digital skills are not being adequately taught in J-schools
More and more journalism schools and programs are starting to incorporate multimedia or digital journalism contents into curriculum: a few elective courses, a dedicated track or concentration, or a completely overhauled degree program.
Depending on how multimedia or digital journalism contents are incorporated, in my ongoing survey of multimedia journalism degree programs in U.S., I categorize a journalism program as “fully integrated,” “partly integrated,” or “silo.”
A general observation is that only a small number of journalism programs are “fully integrated” with multimedia journalism.
Going further, I took a look of what skills are being taught in a multimedia journalism course. In another post, I analyzed 30 selected syllabi of multimedia (digital/online/convergent) journalism, and found the common components in a typical multimedia journalism course to be blog, video, audio, audio slideshow, social media, photography, data visualization, and web writing.
The issue is: if I need to nail down the truly most common components that appear in almost every syllabus, they are blog, video and audio.
When compared with the “new” skills on the list of 25 skills mentioned above, it is obvious that existing multimedia journalism courses do not adequately address the “true”, emerging digital skills. For instance, data journalism only appears in a few syllabi. Other skills such as “mapping & geotagging,” “real-time reporting” and “SEO & audience building” are not being taught at all.