A Time for Experimenting, Engaging and Flourishing

And a new semester is upon us.

I stumbled upon this blog post at Media Shift recently.  The author, a professor at the University of Canberra in Australia makes a strong case for journalism schools leading the way in the digital revolution.  This was one of the running themes at the ICONN conference I attended at the University of Tennessee  over break.  It was  inspiring to see how many instructors out there agree that journalism schools should be the place for experimentation, innovation and creation.

Some good stuff from the author, including this:

But students pursuing journalism degrees demand to be taught the professional skills that will get them hired. And while they may enroll in traditional journalism courses which are still often segregated into “print” and “broadcast,” the industry demands that they emerge with a set of generic skills suitable for a digital newsroom — such as an ability to incorporate audio and visual elements into multimedia productions — in addition to specialist skills in one or two traditional areas and an understanding of the changing nature of the industry.

This reality means it’s incumbent upon all journalism academics to now engage intellectually with these changes and develop skills in digital media practice — it’s no longer exclusively multimedia/digital journalism/new media academics who must undertake this work.

In other academic fields, it’s cutting-edge research that drives industry change, not the other way around. In a perfect world, journalism educators would not lag behind industry, but rather would be setting the pace for educational change in response to digital transformations. This would require keeping abreast of the dramatic changes affecting industry and enhancing traditional journalism courses through the integration of platforms, which are both easy to use and increasingly driving the news consumption habits of our students.



About journalismprof

Steve joined the journalism faculty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in August 2007 and has been working to incorporate multimedia across the curriculum. Since arriving at UMass, Steve has developed three courses modeled after his multimedia journalism course. The courses allow students to work in teams in a newsroom-like environment where they work on packages -- using video, audio and photos to tell stories. He is also working with students on developing amherstwire.com, a news Web site staffed completely by students. Steve has more than 25 years of experience as an editor and reporter for print and online publications, including 10 as an editor at washingtonpost.com. He also edits part-time for espn.com with the NFL and college football network.
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One Response to A Time for Experimenting, Engaging and Flourishing

  1. Deehan says:

    I couldn’t agree more. I had a lengthy Charlotte-to-Boston conversation with my boss (I’m PT, don’t go thinking I’m employed or anything) about how a certain journalism faculty we both happen to be alumni of has started to reinvent itself and started to find a new, more relevant identity.
    I do worry about what is being taught, though. Having absolutely no proper multimedia training, being self-taught has been advantageous for me. Yes, I’ve taught myself every video editing suite under the sun, learned how to integrate flash video into a subscription-only site, etc., but the really beneficial skills have been less standardized and specific. Don’t teach just the software that’s being used today, teach what it is and why it is used. For example, you can know every trick in the FCP book, but if you don’t have an intuitive understanding of generic non-linear video editing and how it works, what are you going to do when an editor has you use an ancient version of Adobe Premier? (That happened to me)
    I liken this lack of broader knowledge to being able to recite the names and dates of an historical war without being able to express what caused that war or what the aftermath was. Journalists are supposed to be effective in varying situations, not tied to one set methodology, especially since our industry is nowhere close to settling on an established methodology for multimedia.
    My advice: a) learn to report and write news WELL. b) take a couple comp-sci courses, learn ‘how a computer works’, not ‘how to operate a computer’. c) if you have time, learn whatever photo-slideshow or podcast-embedding app is in vogue at the moment.

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