The gap between journalism education and the (changing) journalism profession

“Journalism education needs to incorporate more ‘new skills’ to catch up with what is expected of the next generation of journalists.” This is the conclusion based on a comparison of skills emphasized by media professionals and skills that are taught in journalism schools. 

What are the skills expected from a future journalist? Back in the days you were a journalist when you got on the road and you wrote your article afterwards. Nowadays, being a journalist is different. It’s not more complicated, it’s simply new. Maybe we think of it as difficult, but that’s because we don’t know it. We can divide the journalistic skills into two groups:

The old skills

  • News judgement, reporting basics, news writing, critical thinking, curiosity and knowledge about the world, journalism ethics, media law, video, audio, documents & records utilization, web coding & design, flexibility, passion for journalism

The new skills

  • Storytelling, entrepreneurial journalism, data journalism, photojournalism & slideshows, mapping and geo tagging, real-time reporting, social media engagement, blogging and web writing, mobile & backpack journalism, SEO & audience building, collaboration & crowdsourcing, software and techie equipment.

So the old ones are the traditional ones. The new skills are mostly digital skills. What do we learn at school? Are the journalism educations up-to-date? Do they teach storytelling, data journalism or geo tagging?

We all know the old formula, where the media is divided into three main parts: radio, TV and print. Isn’t this a little dated? A lot of magazines and newspapers are in decline, but there is one booming business: online media. Simply because (almost) everyone has access to it.

The importance of new skills being taught
Nowadays everyone can be a journalist. Everybody can write a story online or publish a post. It’s very important that future journalists know every way to gather news. Journalist educations aren’t that old, but they are already a little bit ‘old school’. Most of the educations focus on the old skills. Nevertheless, AP Hogeschool is doing pretty well I think.

In the first year of the education we are taught Word and Excel. I don’t think that’s really necessary. But instead, I think a Photoshop course would be pretty good. We’re also taught the 4 stages in the journalistic process on the web. Gathering, distilling, presenting and engaging.

In the following year we were introduced to Diigo, WordPress and we learn how to make a site concept and a structure.

Because we chose ‘online media’ as a minor, we’re now taught how to make HTML codes, how to embed videos and we got to know sites such as Open Refine, Feedly, Diggreader. Things like that.

I don’t think AP Hogeschool is ‘old school’, but it could be better. Courses like digital storytelling and data journalism could be very interesting and useful. 


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