What should we teach tomorrow’s Journalism students?
I was invited yesterday to join other journalism lecturers from Kingston University and advise them about the future of journalism.
Wisely, they’re getting together now to think about what the media landscape might look like in five years time, and working out how to adjust their teaching accordingly.
We went through lots of different scenarios, and I highlighted some of the following, which I think will be important skills for the J-students of the future:
The monetisation of journalism will come from journalists, young or otherwise, launching their own enterprises serving a demand from a specific audience. It might be hyperlocal, or it might be niche.
But to achieve this, students will need to be taught these business basics: how to launch a start-up, how to manage money, where to get investment. And even: what is a good business idea?
The future media landscape won’t consist of a few big giants, but many, far smaller, enterprises. And tomorrow’s journalists must be prepared for this.
Next, I pushed journalism students need to be social-media mavens. It is not good enough to be aware of blogs and Twitter. Or even to have a rarely used account. Journalism students must be fully immersed in these platforms (and what follows them).
They need to understand how they can create a community around a specific topic.
They must have experienced the exhilarating feeling of getting a spike in blog readers when they publish good content.
And they must know how social media markets their work.
New technical skills
I’m talking video shooting and editing, basic photography and photo editing and website design. HTML and CSS would be ideal. Simply because other journalists will have these skills – and you can’t afford to be left behind.
Old journo skills
And here I mean good writing, good storytelling. We talked a lot about what separates a journalist from a citizen journalist. I think the answer is the ability to identify news, to source it, to find people…and to publish it into good content.
…and the drive
You can’t teach this to kids, but you can try to instill some enthusiasm. It is no longer good enough (in any walk of life, save I dunno, chemistry, engineering etc) to walk into a degree and hope to walk into a job. That attitude will earn you a McDonald’s badge and not much else. Students themselves must crave success, and as Hannah Waldram puts it: “get-up-and-go to take them through the difficulties and pressures of doing something on their own…”
The fact journalism course are looking to the future now is a small, but important step in the right direction. What skills would you put on the curriculum?
Disclaimer: I am a part-time lecturer in Video & Photojournalism at Kingston University.
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