What do journalism students need to know?

9 years ago

There was a lively chat Monday at Poynter.org about what journalism students need to know in order to survive in this turbulent new media economy. Even though I was one of the participants, I'm still digesting the transcript. What I can report is that a lot of people are thinking about the issues that got kicked around during that intense hour.

 

The chat was the result of the conversation generated by E-media Tidbits contributor and copy editor Maurreen Skowran's March 12 essay, Reimaging J-School Programs in the Midst of A Changing Industry. Skowran sketched out a tentative new curriculum that included courses on "computational journalism," gaming, advertising, and business skills. One of the big topics of debate during Monday's chat was over how much programming journalism students needed to know.

Last year Amy Gahran, published a series of posts on suggested improvements to the journalism curriculum. Interestingly, Gahran said that the series was inspired by a conversation with Blogher CE (and former broadcast journalist) Elana Centor. Among her recommendations: "Require at least two internships" and "Ditch Dreamweaver" in favor of a content management system such as Wordpress. But the piece of advice I really like is "Teach them to think on their feet and educate themselves."

Amy and Mindy McAdams had a fruitful exchange last year about developing a curriculum that produced students with "testable, measurable skills." Here's an sample of what that means at the University of Florida Journalism School, where McAdams teaches:

1. Audio: Produce a 2-minute clip with clear nat sound, narration, and interview material, edited digitally and compressed for the Web.

2.Online ethics: Answer questions about five case studies concerning: advertising interference in editorial; hidden bias or manipulation by the journalist; sock puppetry or fakery; image and audio manipulation; staged or posed events (video, audio, photo); influence by fear or favor.

3. XHTML and CSS: Demonstrate knowledge of how to use 10 basic XHTML tags and basic CSS (body, font, color, margin, padding, div); test this knowledge with a set of multiple-choice questions.

 

On the eve of Monday's chat, McAdams :

I hope it’s not just a rehash of the old “skills vs. mindset” debate. That only wastes time.

I'm looking forward to her thoughts now that the chat is done. And I'm looking forward to your thoughts about what the journalism curriculum of the future ought to look like.

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