171 responses to What kind of journalism education today best sets students up for success tomorrow?

  1. A thought that struck me after leaving yesterday’s chat is that we might get more revealing answers if we restructured the original question. Whether or not one’s education prepares one to succeed is largely up to how well one takes advantage of that education, not on the quality of the education itself.

    Even from my most frustrating classes — the ones I felt should be significantly modified — I found something of value to take away. That doesn’t mean the class was well-designed or that my time in the class was well-spent. It just means that I’m determined to make the best of every situation. It’s quite possible that my time would have been much better spent taking a different class, working in the field, etc.

    So all we really learn from asking the original question is how motivated each student is. But that ignores the larger issue here, which is that education should be maximised benefit for the time and money put into it; the biggest bang for your buck, so to speak. It should not be a system students have to work around in order to succeed.

  2. At CU Boulder’s Journalism and Mass Communications Program I was able to dip my toe wherever I felt needed in order to shape my skills to become a multimedia journalist.

  3. This concludes the live portion of the forum for the day.

    For those coming late, I mentioned before that we’ve been talking a lot about what is missing and frustrating, but where do we go from here? As current or emerging journalists, what are you passionate about? Why are you perusing journalism, and what are your hopes for the potential of journalism moving forward?

    The forum remains open for input, so feel free to continue the discussion over time- follow up and weigh in you see fit.

    Again, thank you all so much for bringing your experiences and thoughts to the conversation!

    • Wow. Very. Good. Point. Thinking of how “traditional” media can be “bypassed” can not only shed some light upon how this field is continually in a state of organic flux (which many traditionalists sadly are not recognizing to their demise), but can also reveal some advantages of being a neo-journalist in the digital age. Bypass the machine that has long controlled (to a certain extent) the media culture and begin to expose the world to stories not being told. The news can come alive without the channels that may have suffocated it in the past–these are the pluses of rethinking journalism, AND journalism education. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Teresa Beasely, a communication instructor at Panola College, says “We need to teach these students to combine their journalism education with a companion field — health care, for example, so that they will be able to write freelance articles or work on a contract basis for health care organizations.”

    Joe, you mention the frustration of not being provided the option of multi-focus training as well.

    How important do you all think cross-disciplinary learning is?

    • Remember to hit “reply” to this comment to respond. With our commenting system, it makes the conversation easier to follow 🙂

    • In today’s world everything we do gets put on the internet in one way or another, and that means using a multitude of tools to show a story. There are some things that are more visual, and there are somethings that are better off being described, but journalists need to know how to do both.

      • Some skills current journalism students have cited as must-haves to succeed today are social media savvy, coding, design, and business know-how. Is there anything missing from the list?

      • I think cross-disciplinary learning is crucial. As a field biologist turned journalist, I have the advantage of having a experience in that niche. Therefore, have by allowing students to have a focus you’re opening up their career field of possibilities. I think having the multi focus option is great (especially since we have no choice in this multimedia world!) but there’s got to be some consideration for how much time you invest into each focus. Plus the matter of the journalism realm constantly evolving. How was your experience in multi-focusedness Joe?

      • Multi-lingual. I just spent two weeks in Brazil meeting with different journalists from several different outlets, and the growing need for bi-lingual skills is at the head of most editors hiring problems. Journalists are becoming specialized experts on a topic or region (branding is the word thrown in newsrooms), and frequently that means being able to communicate with different people from different parts of the world.
        You learn a language like Portuguese, Spanish, or Mandarin, good chance you’ll have a job out of college.

      • Nicole, that list should include storytelling! If you don’t know how to organize a story, knowing all those tools won’t amount to much.

      • Joe, great point about language study. My university has a wide range of useful languages, so I’m surprised that more of my journo classmates aren’t taking advantage of that. My experiences in Russian class have been among the most valuable I’ve had at college.

      • Storytelling is supposed to be understood, but sometimes its forgotten in the hiring process. people see all the different skills and fail to realize that the person might not be able to put the events in order.

      • Good point, Glen. That is another topic that has been mentioned many times in this conversation: the need to keep the emphasis on learning the fundamentals of storytelling & reporting, on solid writing skills, as the base for every curriculum. As one Teresa noted, “We write when we post to a blog, when we post to Facebook, when we Tweet or text. Good, crisp writing will always be valuable.”

      • Taylor, May, do you feel like you are able to focus enough on the fundamentals, with all the distraction of trying to learn how to harness new technologies and tools? Do you think tech is helping or hindering your education?

      • Like you said, something that ties all social media together is that good writing is always necessary; in that respect, what’s key to learning how to be a good journalist is also true of learning how to use social media and technology well. I don’t think that learning new technology amid learning the basics is difficult; I’ve never felt like they conflict or that I’ve had to juggle learning one over the other. I’m grateful to be learning about new tech now, rather than facing some unforgiving learning curve in the future.

      • I think it’s definitely helping, no question. The goal is to mesh – and morph – the fundamentals with emerging and relevant technologies…and I do believe it IS happening. But the onus lays mostly upon the student themselves to seek and out and explore these tools and make a concerted effort to incorporate them back into the classroom. This is where j-school ed (in some programs) should be re-configured.

      • You’re right, May. I do think I’ve taken more time to learn social media and technology skills on my own more than I’ve done in the classroom.

      • What’s crazy is that in the next 5 years, social media won’t need to be taught. Just like how “Powerpoint and Word” used to be a bullet point on a resume and now its simply expected, so will social media. If you can’t tweet or communicate on the Web, you’re way behind in my book.

      • Thanks so much for joining us, everyone, this has been a great conversation. We’ve been talking a lot about what is missing and frustrating, but on and end note, can you share with us, as current or emerging journalists, what are you most excited about?

        Why are you perusing journalism, and what are your hopes for the potential of journalism moving forward? What do you hope to see?

      • my focus is on business and finance, as well as technology. For me journalism is about connecting the people to the money. Microsoft, Apple, BP and all the other big corporations can make multi-billion dollar moves but what I want to know, is how does that affect the every day consumer? Connecting the quarterly report to the wallet.

      • I’m majoring in journalism because it’s a changing field and because I love being at the forefront of what’s going on in the world. I’m interested in working in press communications or political journalism (I’d be CJ Cregg in a heartbeat) and being at Medill has let me pursue journalism and a host of other opportunities in Chicago.
        I think the influx of information and data available, as well as increased participation and interactivity (re: our previous mention of bloggers) is so exciting. Journalism, to me, is increasingly becoming a field of curation, and I love the work involved in sifting through, sharing and aggregating data and news. I am most excited about journalism’s growth on the internet.

      • Other skills on my list: research, critical thinking, real curiousity. I agree it’s good to have a solid background in a particular field, but I worry about Teresa Beasely’s comment, as quoted by Nicole: “We need to teach these students to combine their journalism education with a companion field — health care, for example, so that they will be able to write freelance articles or work on a contract basis for health care organizations.” I see the companion field as a way to give a journalist deep knowledge, but hopefully not to flip back and forth between working in an industry and reporting on it.

    • It’s a great idea to have a field of expertise one can report on, such as the health care example. My concern is, if students spend their classes/time focused on a specific field, they might lose an opportunity to take classes in several different topics and be prepared for covering a wide range of things. Journalists have always been jacks of all trades, and I think that’s more true than ever.

      • This is where we disagree. The value of a ‘Jack of all Trades’ (master of none) is of increasingly declining value and soon will become a liability. (Hey, let’s report on the Supreme Court today and… Oh… Islamic fundamentalism tomorrow…!) When I went to Columbia J School they had a class called ‘instant expert’. It should have been called ‘how to bull your way through a story and pretend you know something you really know nothing about”. What is the value for the reader?

      • Well, I’m not going to downgrade the value of a reporter with specialized knowledge! But for instance, writing a story on prisons in the U.S. might incorporate economics, criminal justice, and health care. Having a jack of all trades means you get a picture of how all the pieces fit together, and hopefully that jack of all trades brings in specialized experts to explain each bit in depth.

      • To me a jack of all trades in journalism means, like Glen said, being able to fit pieces together. A journalist cannot be an expert on every topic he or she is writing about, but knowing the people to fill in the gaps of knowledge, as well as being able to present the pertinent information for their readers/viewers is what makes a journalist a jack of all trades.

      • Have to run, folks. It’s dinnertime where I’m at. Great chatting with y’all!

      • Thank you so much for joining us, Glen! Feel free to come back and follow up on the conversation at your leisure. We really appreciate your input here.

      • Something that journalism education needs to focus on is knowing what questions to ask. If you’re not an expert on whatever particular topic, this is the only way you can produce a story of value.

    • I think cross-disciplinary learning is important, but secondary to learning the basics of good journalism. If we’re talking about students learning another discipline, I think that a double major in a related field would be a good idea. I’ve taken a solid grounding in economics that helped me cover financial news when I interned at MarketWatch, and if I work at a financial publication I know those classes will help me there, too.

      • Exactly right, Taylor. Cross-disciplinary learning is critical, I think. I got my BA in Design and my MA in Architecture and practiced for some years before returning to grad school for journalism. I can’t tell you how much my experiences as a designer and architect have influenced my j-school education, if anything to add working knowledge of business, multimedia tools and designing for the web. Strictly speaking though, as a discussion on the current state of j-school ed, perhaps what’s missing are these elective cross-disciplinary courses that would allow those students who may not necessarily be able to fully delve into double majors, or additional degrees a means to explore and educate themselves on areas beyond “traditional” journalism.

      • That’s true; I know I had a head start on my degree because of AP credits and I might not have had time to fit in a double major without them. I think elective courses can be targeted towards specific industries; for example, when I return to campus next fall I’m planning on taking an elective on sports journalism, and another about developing new technology for news websites.

  5. May, working journalists are not being ‘taken advantage of’, they are facing the cruel reality of a world in which everyone has an HD camera in their pocket and it doesn’t take a whole lot of skill to take a photo. The same might be said for traditional ‘journalism’. With 100 million bloggers in the world, what exactly is the ‘value’ of another ‘writer’? Technology is changing and if journalism students expect to have any kind of career (let alone income) then they had better wise up fast.

    • I think the value of journalists is that they are not (or at least, shouldn’t be) just “more writers.” Journalists are trained in fact-checking, communication tech, etc. News from someone filming with a smartphone and posting it on a blog is less likely to be professional and vetted. (With respect to the quality bloggers out there, of course.)

      • Glen, I think a lot of bloggers are a whole lot better than many ‘journalists’. They often have a deeper understand of what they are writing about and a deeper passion for the material. The idea of a ‘generalist’ (OK, today you cover Somalia, tomorrow it’s India and on Tuesday, the dog show) is a complete waste of time, actually. As for the smartphone stuff, I would rather equip a hundred UN field operatives in Africa (which, by the way, I am doing) and have them ‘report’ (as they know the language, the culture, the people and the story) than send out 1 CNN ‘Crew’ with a ‘reporter’ who doesnt know the language, culture, history, region or much else. (or Brian Williams for that matter). And the UN people will give you more accurate information, faster and for much much MUCH lower cost. That is the future.

      • Fair points. I think the value of a generalist is in learning how to bring all those people who know the area, culture, etc., together. To put the puzzle together, so to speak.

      • Editors and publishers, yes. ‘Reporters?’ – total waste of space.

    • Rosenblumtv, no doubt journos need to be a master of many trades, and as a techie/designer/editor AND writer, I know that all too well. However, internships that simply place students in exploitable positions without the experience that has long been attached to a valuable “real-world” classroom are a waste of time, and furthermore feed back into the machine of devaluing the worth of those who can (and do) contribute more to the industry than just shooting pics with an iPhone,.throwing some text onto iMovie clips and tweeting about it. Journalism is changing, you’re absolutely right, and j-students need to arm themselves with all the tools necessary to be equipped to compete. Internships though, should actually contribute to this armament, and many, sadly, do not.

      • I have interns. Here’s the problem. They don’t know anything. I am happy to give them the experience and the education but they don’t bring anything to the table that is worth paying for. It’s like a charitable contribution.

      • Rosenblumtv, how do you suggest they get experience before interning with you?

      • Touché. Good point. I think that’s why is so critical for students to go beyond what’s offered in most jschool programs and study/gain experience in other realms, bringing “something to the table” when and if they do intern.

      • Glen, I take it as a given that they have no experience and that they don’t know anything. That is generally the case. The greatest problem I have is when they ‘think’ they know something. Let’s go back to the old days of apprenticeships. Worked better. That’s how most great newspaper people learned the craft anyway

    • There’s some tough love for ya, but it is reality of the business world vs. the controlled environment of the university – and bridging the challenges of consumer demand and public right to know. I’ve been interviewing business leaders around the value they place on journalism, and I hear them consistently say – a lot. But one of the areas I don’t see journalism showing up yet, is around translating actionable innovation — in business innovation is all about solving problems. Even for journalism programs — an opportunity to do more matching making based on the core capabilities of universities that perhaps might begin to do more collaborative curriculum development, building the market into this… I hear business leaders definitely differentiating between “real” journalism and repurposed content – aggregated content or advetorial content posing as journalism. There is definitely a market for good journalism product – opportunity is to help students get real world exposure and practical professional skills, while they are in school to anticipate the world they will need to survive in after they get their degrees.

  6. If actual, working journalists are being taken advantage of (read: the recent layoff of the entire Chicago-Sun Trib photojournalism dept), then aren’t interns – in many instances – being set up to receive the same treatment? In other words, if media outlets know they can get cheap labor from interns and sack existing, experienced journalists, then how can we – as an entire industry – hope to change that? I submit this as a question as a catalyst for real reform within the field, from the inside-out, beginning with j-school education and its emphasis on interning under these presently dire circumstances.

    • Correction: Chicago-Sun Times.

    • Great point, May. The current circumstances don’t lend themselves to job stability. If experienced journos are getting sacked so the organization can higher new journo grads at cheaper rates, it would seem likely the grads will get the same treatment when they in turn become more experienced.

      • So where are these sacked journalists going? Bring them back in as mentors! 🙂

      • This is something I worry about as a soon-to-be graduate. If entry-level job are being filled with internship positions, I don’t know what will remain for those who aren’t field veterans, and who don’t want to be interns any longer.

      • Stacey, who will pay for experienced mentors? If the field isn’t profitable, schools likely won’t invest in expanding their communication departments. Plus, many great reporters hold only a bachelor’s degree, while teaching at university requires at least a master’s.

      • Who is paying for drone technology? Will that be here in 10 years? There’s got to be a focus on getting the students on top of a craft that is in such a tumultuous time where everyone is vying for the latest technology…in some dream world of mine, they might be able to direct that toward something more nurturing for those of us rising in this crazy tech-journo-mashup.

  7. The complaint about feeling taken advantage of I can understand just because we’re put to work and hardly paid. But I think that in the long run, even that is worth the disadvantage at the time of the internship just because the real-life experience is so key to being a journo/

    • You’re right about the experience; I’m at the Poynter Institute right now as part of my Journalism Residency for Medill. JR is key to our journalism program because the school wants us to have real newsroom experience before we graduate.

      • Glen makes a good point about learning more from professors’ “personal wisdom” than from the official curriculum. Another topic we’ve covered is the importance of mentors, of making contacts both within your school and in the professional world that help guide you as shape your career. Is your education facilitating these kinds of connections?

      • Without a doubt. My major/faculty advisor has helped me in determining my academic career and has also helped to find internships. Here at Poynter, I’ve got a great mentor who can give me feedback and who also serves as a role model to me in terms of the work she does.

    • As Stacey and Taylor both noted, real newsroom experience is key. But rather than being a justification for the current school/internship dynamic, I think it demonstrates a failing in how journalism education is structured. If university curriculum made more time for real-world experience, students would get more from the time and money they put into studying, and might be less overworked.

      • I agree and disagree with that, Glen. I do think that there are probably additional opportunities for real-world experience in the classroom, but many of my professors have done a good job of encouraging students to find freelance work using pieces we’ve written for class, and two of the core classes in my program are a storefront class that occurs in a Chicago neighborhood, and the JR internship itself. I also think there’s value in learning concepts in the classroom and then applying them at an internship – I’m good at learning on-the-go now, but I don’t know that encouraging much more learning on the job would be an effective way to learn the foundations of good journalism.

      • I also think that there’s an emphasis on students leaving college with job experience, now, because of the job market. It’s another way to distinguish yourself as a candidate, whereas there may have been more leeway in the past because the field for journalists, and for jobs in general, was much better.

      • You make a good point about learning the fundamentals in class and applying them to real life. I certainly agree that all journo students need basic newswriting and media law classes, for instance. I just think it would be more efficient to tighten things up a bit, cut out or alter classes that overlap with each other. But of course, that will vary depending on your learning style and your particular school’s curriculum.

      • There’s definitely room for improvement, like you said – and I think that something good to come from j-schools recently have been media labs with organizations like the Knight Foundation. They focus on changing trends in media, so there’s opportunity for students to get real-world experience, but it’s still pretty academic in that they’re studying media trends as an institution.

  8. We’re here to discuss the ways in which the current journalism education system is preparing students for success after they graduate. One issue that has been both praised and criticized is the necessity of taking on an internship. While some say it is important to get the hands-on training it provides, others complain that they are being taken advantage of.
    Taylor (and others with internship experience), what is your take on this? Do you feel your internships are providing enough value to make it worth it? What vital skills are you learning?

    Note: when adding your thoughts, will you hit the “Reply” button under each comment so we can keep the conversation easy to follow and in line? And don’t forget to refresh your browser often!

    • Haven’t interned yet, but I’ve worked extensively with student media, and contributed/freelanced to several publications while working on my degree. It’s vital to get hands-on experience outside what a degree offers, but in some ways, it demonstrates how journalism education is broken. I’ve learned quite a bit from my professors, but I’ve learned more from their personal wisdom than from the official curriculum, in many cases.

      It’s an effort to balance full-time school with simultaneous media commitments. It’s an effort I hope will result in a good job after graduation, but it’s made necessary by the fact that my degree alone will not give me enough.

    • I responded a bit lower in the thread, but I’d like to add that there’s a big difference between learning about something in class and completing an assignment or enterprise story for a final project, and actually applying those concepts and doing work in a newsroom. You learn just as much as an intern as you do as a student, and I think that’s the hallmark of a good internship.

      • That’s definitely true, and it brings me back to the point about curriculum vs. experience. Freelance work has taught me many things quite quickly — more so than doing in-class work. Real life is the best crash course!

    • My internship I’m in right now has been one of the most valuable things I could have had in college. There is a big difference between reading journalism and writing it. I’ve got a solid portfolio, contacts in the industry, and the skills I could never have learned before.

  9. Howdy folks. VA journo (currently in Estonia) here. Looking forward to new faces and new thoughts.

  10. Arizona here!

  11. Good afternoon from Florida! I’m excited for the chat.

    • We’re here to discuss the ways in which the current journalism education system is preparing students for success after they graduate. One issue that has been both praised and criticized is the necessity of taking on an internship. While some say it is important to get the hands-on training it provides, others complain that they are being taken advantage of.
      Taylor (and others with internship experience), what is your take on this? Do you feel your internships are providing enough value to make it worth it? What vital skills are you learning?

      • There’s a lot of variance when it comes to internships, and I’m thankful that I’ve had valuable experiences everywhere I’ve interned. I definitely think that internships make you a better journalist (and candidate for jobs) in the long run because you can apply what you’ve learned in class to actually covering the news cycle, and because you can find a mentor at an internship who can give you guidance while you’re an intern and after your work at a site has ended. I think that concerns about being taken advantage of are real, particularly when it comes to unpaid internship; if you don’t get guidance or mentorship (or at least a good editor), an internship can be a waste of time. That being said, I’ve improved as a writer and reporter during my internships, and I’ve picked up social media skills, to boot. I know going forward that these opportunities will make me stand out when I apply for my first jobs as a graduate.

      • Taylor as you’ve done your internships – how much does the business side of journalism play into what you’re getting either exposed to or learning about? Is it primarily reporting and craft or also the fundamentals of how to sustain the work ethically, while seeing revenue on the other end?

      • I haven’t seen much of the business side, in terms of the outlets where I work, but at Poynter I’ve covered media news so I’ve seen an overview of the industry. However, that’s come as part of my reporting and writing assignments. I also haven’t sought out those kinds of internships, so I don’t know how much my experience reflects that side of the field. However, I will say that I’ve been exposed to the uglier realities of the business – the four journalists who worked in the bureau where I interned last summer were all laid off a few months after I left.

  12. Welcome to the live portion of our forum! Today we are talking with current Poynter intern and Medill School of Journalism student Taylor Thomas. Thanks for joining us!

    Participants & viewers- Please remember to refresh your browser often to stay up-to-date with the current discussion and view each new comment as it comes in. Jump in with questions and thoughts at any time!

    Just a head’s up- people who have subscribed to this conversation will get a number of email notifications over the next hour as the discussion is live – please feel free to join back in, either during or after the flurry of activity!

  13. What frustrates me more than anything in regards to journalism education, as a current student, is the drive to segregate students into certain mediums. From day one we were asked to choose photo, broadcast, print or “multi-media” journalism. Isn’t every journalist in today’s industry expected to be all four? I know recent broadcast graduates who can’t write an article and print grads who can’t put together a news package. Not being a jack of all trades in today’s journalism industry is moving students closer to the chopping block

    • Really good point Joe, when I was out a Mizzou a few years ago doing a fellowship there, a couple students petitioned Dean Mills to consider letting them do a capstone project that was cross-sequence, strat comm, magazine, broadcast, etc. (http://americanresponse.project573.com/) – it was a brilliant success and the students got a ton out of it. I believe Miizzou continues to offer this as a capstone — hopefully we’ll see more of this kind of thing offered. Katie Zhu (in this conversation) has spoken quite a bit to her experience as a double major – to give her the coding and reporting skills she needs to do the kind of journalism she’s interested in doing. It’s a changing dynamic, have you been able to get any traction by talking to your professors or the Dean?

      • the conversation has definitely been thrown out there. But there is a big difference between conversation and action. Luckily I’ve been able to pick up skills in different sectors on my own, but without that I could be dead in the water.

      • What would your advice be to universities that are grappling with the tension of such a rapidly changing market? Even in the four years it takes to get a degree – the market change is significant. As you’ve been scrappy and figured out how to gain some of these critical skills, how do you think your university — or others – might better build a pipeline into the critical skills to be successful in the market combined with the essential knowledge of craft and reporting? And reflect this back into a curriculum that is both nimble but offers the depth required to do good journalism. ASU has one of the best programs out there, any advice for others to play forward?

      • ASU’s program is top notch, but its very separated. If you’re a print journalist, you work with print journalists and take only writing classes, and if you’re a broadcast/visual journalists; you’re only taking video and news video classes. But as you walk across the street and look at the Arizona Republic building, ABC 15 (local ABC affiliate) has its newsroom in the heart of the Arizona Republic’s.
        The best advice: teach every journalist how to be a journalist behind the camera, with a pen and paper, in front of a computer screen and in person. Thats what will prepare us the best. Obviously there are some specializations, but everyone needs to be able to write, speak and produce content at an accurate and efficient pace.

      • Not to come to the conversation too late, but I feel the same frustration with Medill’s track program. I’m on the broadcast track, but I don’t want to limit my skills set to video reporting and editing. Medill allows students to take classes outside their track, though; I’ve taken magazine and IMC classes.
        On a side note – two of the team members for Project 573 went to my high school, and I know they’ve continued to work at a variety of publications and outlets, because they focused on getting a broad exposure to different skills. That’s the kind of work we should be encouraged to pursue!

  14. Journalism schools need to shift focus from print to converging media. I tell my students that good writing will always be essential — we write when we post to a blog, when we post to Facebook, when we Tweet or text. Good, crisp writing will always be valuable. The Chicago newspaper that just fired all its photographers has set new ground rules for photojournalism. No longer can students hope to get a job with a newspaper, work their way up the ladder and retire with a pension. We need to teach these students to combine their journalism education with a companion field — health care, for example, so that they will be able to write freelance articles or work on a contract basis for health care organizations. They need to learn business skills and personal financial management. I can’t with good conscience tell my students that it’s crucial that they learn the copy-editing symbols. I can’t promise my students that a newspaper, or even a magazine job, will be waiting for them. Those who are lucky enough to find a job are faced with low entry-level salaries. They need to know how to navigate and post to websites, how to use PhotoShop, a videocamera, etc. The world has changed.

  15. Considering the great conversation that came out of this Wednesday’s live chat, we’re decided to have another!

    Tuesday, June 4th,10am PST/1pm EST: Join us for a discussion with current Poynter intern and Medill School of Journalism student Taylor Thomas, in which we continue to delve into the frustrations, expectations and hopes of today’s emerging J-students.

    Looking forward to hearing everyone’s input!

  16. If you can’t run a profitable journalism business, the rest of the discussion is a moot point. If you have not noticed, Newsweek, once a tower of journalism is both broke and for sale. The old model is finished.

    • Good point, the tower of journalism model — which stood for decades has been leveled with the means of distribution – e.g. digital – completely bringing journalism back to the ground level – e.g. community, with a vast range of tools and means to connect and bring voice to, and engage with, the audience. Do you see examples – either in journalism or beyond in other industries, that reveal new models blending craft and distribution in a new ways that may point to business models we have yet to explore? There is a tension between the idea of journalism as a market enterprise and public interest journalism which – like the Red Cross – isn’t really about “ROI” – thoughts?

      • Yes. The revenue model is moving very rapidly from advertising based to transaction based. Instead of running ads if you run click and buy opportunities (stealing a page from Amazon) and take a % for each transaction you can build a very profitable site, even better for local.

  17. Welcome to the live portion of our forum! Today we are connecting with recent University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication graduate Stacey Hollis and current Northwestern University senior. Thanks for being with us!

    Participants & viewers- Please remember to refresh your browser often to stay up-to-date with the current discussion and view each new comment as it comes in. Feel free to jump in with questions and thoughts at any time.

    • In this conversation, we are trying to surface elements of modern day journalism education that may be missing from current curriculum in order to prepare graduates to flourish in digital era. One point that you’ve brought up, Stacey, and one that has emerged several times in the thread, is the new necessity for social media savvy.

      What do you think? Should some sort of social media training be a requirement in for journalism students, or should it be a self-taught skill?

      • Great question, and certainly social media is a potent and relevant element of news storytelling in the digital era. As a second year grad student at the University of Florida, St. Petersburg, we have a solid social media component within the core curriculum, and several professors who specialize in teaching the use of this valuable tool beyond what we’d probably pick up on our own.

      • It’s a mix of both. You have to learn how to make various social media tools work for you, but there’s definitely a burden on the educators to teach best practices and preach the value of a curated web presence for students.

      • I had social media training in one of my classes, but we only spent a couple of days on it. The main requirement was to join twitter, something I find to be very beneficial for getting your name out there, possibly on the radar of potential employees..

      • Speaking from personal experience, for at least two of my internships, conversations began on Twitter. I’ve also received a lot of other opportunities via Twitter – so I can’t speak to its value enough.

      • When I went to journalism school, social media was just taking off. I have tried to create an online presence to the best of my abilities using practical knowledge, but could use professional guidance on how to use it in my reporting. I think the challenge is that it is still new and good solid policies are still emerging.

      • I’m with May. I think some training in best practices is uber beneficial for J-school students. That component was not a part of the core curriculum at the University of Oregon a couple years ago. Since then, UO has shifted its focus to multimedia journalism, and I believe more recent grads have more experience with social media.

      • I think it’s also worth distinguishing “social media” from “web presence.” Yes, they are very closely related, but I feel web presence is broader – do you have a portfolio, work samples, writing samples online somewhere that’s easily accessible? Do you use social media in a smart way to share your opinions in the fields you’re interested in?

      • Hello! Joining in with Nicole today to learn more about what your experiences are like coming through, and getting out of J-school. One of the programs we’ve been looking at is American University’s Center for Social Media (http://www.centerforsocialmedia.org/) — which isn’t a pure journalism play, but they seem to be doing some fantastic work around social. Curious if anyone can speak to how social media is being recommended as a tool to deepen narrative, or source your work or in a lot of what we’re talking about here – how to source a great gig in journalism. We’d recently posted a piece on this, should it be helpful to you guys. (http://bit.ly/11dU07R) — We’re really interested in this area, and would love to hear more on it…

      • Another hot topic throughout the conversation is that of integrating business education into the journalism education process. One participant states, “…the biggest problem is that J-Schools still treat the field as a ‘craft’ as opposed to a ‘profession.’”

        Was/is business training included in your schooling? How important do you think it is in order to for young journalists to succeed today?

      • I agree with you Katie Zhu, you absolutely have to incorporate self-teaching practices as well, as critical thinking is certainly part of a solid journalism education. Still, if more educators/programs engaged students in ways that both challenged what they already knew about emerging tools, like social media, as well as introduced them to business/use strategies in using those tools, a j-student’s comprehension of possibilities beyond traditional tools can be exponential.

      • Katie, I actually use twitter to “promote” myself and kind of run it in a way to get people interested in checking out my website which is where I have a whole section that is my profile (examples of my published work, etc)

      • Business is a great point to bring up and something that’s definitely been lacking in my undergrad experience. I think it’s still important to teach storytelling as a craft, because it is, but there is definitely the “profession” of it that should be addressed as well.

      • Hey May; curious — do you think internships with curriculum that backs up or preps students with business fundamentals is useful, or bringing market leaders INTO the classroom to talk about how business works? What ways do you think this might be most relevant – bringing the classroom closer to the way it works out in the “real world” ?

      • Stacey, that’s awesome. I think for me it’s more of a profersonal outlet, links to work and such buried in my pictures of food.

      • Precisely. It’s a tool (social media) that can be used to promote web presence, not necessarily be a substitute it.

      • Lisa, almost every professor in UO’s grad school would bring in experienced pros from the business and craft sides of traditional and new media outlets. Some profs featured these guests, in person or via phone or skype, almost every class. I thought it was one of the most beneficial components of the curriculum.

      • Stacey, you just recently graduated, and Katie, you are getting very close. For others, recently graduated or currently still in school, as you enter into the job market, what are you apprehensive about? What challenges are you facing? What would you find helpful in your quest?

      • Social media is definitely a means to engage with the community more as a journalist, I like the possibility of writing about the environment on my blog and then commenting little blurbs about, say, birds I saw along the river that morning which I then tweet about with a link back to the site. Then they can explore the site to see my profile and past work, etc. Since I didn’t get business training in my program I’m kind of going about it all on the fly.
        http://www.staceymhollis.com/portfolio.html

      • Absolutely, Lisa. I can’t emphasize enough the sheer importance – and potency – of business fundamentals, especially when competing in such a cutthroat industry. Incorporating it into the curriculum is of course, vital, though I can honestly say the influence and staying power of actually engaging with those already in the field is remarkable. The impact professionals have upon students is notable, at least for it was (and still is) for me.

      • Hey Chris; thanks for the context around U of O’s approach, curious if after you graduate, do any of those business leaders become part of a larger network that you guys can tap into for networking and finding work in the field. How – or has – the in classroom experience served you after graduation, has this deepened your professional network? Do students have mentors or opportunity to network with those who speak with you guys while you are in your program?

      • Most of my professors in the J-school will stay in contact with me post grad. Not only to help with the job hunt, but also just to stay in touch. I often have past professors email me job openings they think I might be interested in. I think an important tool to bring up in this conversation, along with Twitter, is LinkedIn. The LinkedIn network has helped me stay in touch professionally with contacts across all professions.

      • I think those opportunities are available for ambitious students who have proven themselves. For example, one of my mentor profs hooked up a fellow student with a documentary film house in Boston. UO profs encouraged students to collect the contact information of the pros who visited our lectures and keep in touch with them when searching for a job or just to solicit advice. All the grad students in those classes walked away with contact info for editors at Global Post, the Seattle Times, etc.

      • I’d say one of the things I don’t think is taught (or at least offered as a series of electives) is fundamental knowledge of computer science and basics in coding. While I’m sure many would say “there are computer programmers for that,” I’d offer this: as journalists entering the world of a web-based storytelling arena, I’d like to be knowledgeable to at least a basic extent on how to function as as news-gatherer, content producer and media promoter within this digital space. Coding and competing with those who have a real grasp on how digital systems operate (as a science AND a business) are two areas I’m apprehensive about as I get closer to graduating.

      • You spent a ‘couple of days’ learning how to join twitter? No… not really…

      • A strong alumni network would be so helpful to me right now. There is one in place in my school but so many people just fall off the grid, and past professors are not particularly responsive or active in it.

      • Ramiro is spot on. A strong and responsive alumni network can be a real boon to the job prospects of new grads.

      • Thanks for joining Felicia (and Chris and Rebecca! Woo, UO SOJC!)…definitely a good point on bringing up linkedin..that’s a serious one for sure for networking and seeing who your connections are connected to. Rebecca, I had the same experience as you, traveled back east to find a job and failed. Is everyone just having the hardest time finding a job? What about internships? Are people having trouble with those? Anyone go from an internship straight into a job? Or can you even afford an internship? (I couldn’t)

      • That’s a good point, Ramiro- having an already established network can be so valuable as you emerge onto the job market, and universities that provide that are doing a great service to their alumni. For others- what else do you think would be helpful/ have you found helpful as you start your search for employment in the field?

      • There are plenty of people who don’t really “get” twitter..I definitely didn’t at first but now that I’m starting to gather friends and connections, I really have grown to love it.

      • Chris, you have a great point! Students who are not proving themselves may not come out with strong connections to and from their professors.

        May, Another great point! Coding is a skill journalists don’t often learn. However, there are many Computer Science classes offered and they do count toward a BA in Journalism (At University of Oregon at least).

        RosenblumTV, I spent 11 weeks attempting to learn Twitter in a college course and years in the “real world”, yet it’s still tough!

      • Oh yea, the coding is a whole other story…I think what with all the other things we have to learn in the world of new journalism, coding is just another huge thing to pile on! Adobe programs, too…

      • What I’m hearing here, and what I’ve heard a lot throughout the conversation, is that expectations for young journalists have changed immensely even in just the last few years. There are so many new skills expected of you these days, and you still need to maintain the basic “oldschool” skills of solid reporting, storytelling, etc. It must be a real challenge, both for educators and students, to find the right balance when teaching/learning in the current setting.

      • We’ll be wrapping up soon, but one final question for you all- what are you excited about right now, as you move forward with your careers? What do you enjoy most? What keeps you motivated?

        Thank you all so much for sharing your experiences with us! This closes the live portion of the forum today, but commenting stays open indefinitely for people to continue the conversation at their leisure.

      • To Stacey’s point, on coding, this was a major pain point for Katie – as she has written her post “re-thinking j-school” around the need to double major, petition and reckon with the important skills she is gaining through her education but also, looking into the field at the way she sees her skills being marketable in the field. Do you guys think its more a matter of partnering with others who do specialize in coding, or do you think ALL j-school students should HAVE to know code as a fundamental of the craft moving forward?

      • When I go to hire new J School Grads (and I hire many) I have every expectation that they are completely technically proficient. My hiring interview is giving them a camera and saying, ‘there is the door’. Come back in 3 hours with a cut story or don’t come back (but at least return the camera). Those who can do it, I hire. Those who can’t I have no interest in.

      • I think we as j-students and journalists need to arm ourselves with any tools that would put us in a competitive advantage, period. Coding, web-design, knowledge of business models and social media are just a few things that could – and should, in my opinion – accompany our traditional “craft” curriculum. I have found that having additional experience and/or education in other fields (the more varied, the better) may also do wonders, and seems to be what more media outlets/employers are using to distinguish among future candidates for employment. It seems like an overwhelming boatload to heave on, in addition to trying to pay bills and generally survive, but I do think we have to fundamentally rethink how we approach journalism education in this new age…(easier said than done)

      • I think technical and numerical proficiency are absolutely essential. Not saying everyone needs to be a proficient programmer, but to code a bit, learn what a computer can do for you, and how to _think technically_ (like hey – could we scrape this government data and tell this story with it?), that’s super important.

      • A lot of my peers fret around the data/coding side of things, but the role of a journalist is so often as a translator. Data and spreadsheets is how government and, to a large degree, businesses and non-profits communicate, and we need to be able to talk in their language and translate it to for the public.

      • That’s exactly how I’d think of it, Alex. Good call.

        And Katie, well said. It’s all about how we can gather information to tell a story; it’s not just about getting a camera and a notepad and getting the “scoop” to make the next day’s paper, or to air on the 10pm broadcast. It’s now [also] about deciphering digital content to FIND the story, and delivering that information in accessible, many times mobile, formats for an audience that’ll might be consuming it over large spans of distance, culture, and language. (so basically, yes, we’ve got to learn how to wear multiple hats and make ’em fit pretty snug).

      • Absolutely agree, May. So is getting j-schools to teach both the research end AND the presentation end (web design, video, etc.) along with all the other skills journalists need to learn just too much to ask?

      • Alex; really good question – I think part of it is beginning to shape the question AND think about what elements might begin to shift the experience. Take journalism methodology made better with all the ways we can now create, deliver AND learn from how content is animated by those consuming it — that becomes PART of the news experience. Another part of this U of O SOJC new Center for J-Innovation listening and crowdsourcing we’ve been doing is going out to talk TO businesses to ask: what do they need and look to from journalism products? How does a candidate with a journalism degree measure up in their view? Consistently the response carries strong support of journalism, its critical role & the methodology as a key part of why (journalism ethics, craft, topical expertise, source vetting, data transparency, data visualization, narrative development, objectivity, nuance, critical context, beat knowledge — as a sample of “value points” businesses we talked w/ have noted) — so, hell no, its not too much to ask – the opportunity is HOW? (Some think that things like http://muckrack.com/about or http://solutionsjournalism.org/ begin to point to somewhere new.) What do you think?

  18. Hello everyone- Just wanted to let all participants in this thread know that we will be opening a window for live participation tomorrow starting at 10am PST/ 1pm EST. Northwestern University senior Katie Zhu and recent University of Oregon graduate Stacey Hollis will be joining us to explore various topics emerging in this conversation, ups and downs of journalism education, and their hopes and expectations for the future. Please join in!

  19. The field is requiring more and more technical aptitude, and J-schools are perfectly positioned to provide that new talent. Still, not every school is getting on board.

    As a (very) recent graduate of Berkeley’s J-school, I’m more glad than ever that I chose to go to J-school because it provided a) the chance to learn some technical skills like HTML/CSS, GIS, PhotoShop and FCP and b) gave me a chance to play around with these tools, alone and collaboratively before taking my work out to the world.

    But where journalism schools fail is too often they teach the skill for its own sake. Just because a graduate can work Final Cut Pro doesn’t mean he or she knows how to tell a story with video; just because because a graduate can make a pretty map doesn’t mean he or she knows how to provide people with new a relevant information with one.

    The field is embracing new technologies, but as it does, journalism educators should emphasize the old-school values which kept newsrooms relevant in the days of old. Story matters, and so does providing the public with new and relevant information, and journalism educators should strive to affirm that.

  20. I am a graduate of Columbia University J-School and taught at both Columbia and NYU. To me, the biggest problem is that J-Schools still treat the field as a ‘craft’ as opposed to a ‘profession’. Thus, graduates are always looking to become ’employees’ as opposed to owners and partners.

    Anyone smart enough to have gone to J-School could also have gone to law school. But lawyers arrange themselves differently from journalists. They form partnerships, they share equity, they make money. Making money is no crime. As lawyers manage ‘the law’ for society, journalists manage information for society. This should be a very lucrative field. We don’t treat it as such, which is our loss.

    The Internet Revolution took place on our watch and on our turf and continues to do so. Most web sites are about gathering, processing and managing information – that is the heart of journalism. But we have not made billions from the revolution. Instead, for the most part, we have been marginalized.

    Time for journalists and J-Schools to undergo a fundamental transition in what a ‘journalist’ is. Enough with the ink-stained wretches, noble but poor.

  21. This is a great thread, and I’m happy to see so many journalism students and grads who understand the importance of also having at least basic awareness of how code works.

    I teach Journalism Innovation at the Newhouse school at Syracuse University. It’s my first year on the job, and I’m learning how things work on an academic campus vs. in media companies or the startup scene, both of which I’ve been in before.

    Change is slow in universities for real reasons that I won’t bget into, but I want to emphasize that not everything is or even can be taught within a core curriculum. I agree with other comments on the need to learn by doing. That’s how I always did it, and years ago I managed to move from a simple j-school degree into web publishing for news organizations and media companies all with self-taught skills in HTML, Javascript and PHP/MySQL database applications.

    I’ve been experimenting with a News Startup class (http://journovation.syr.edu/?p=611) and teach some basic web skills in there. I’m also running a digital seminar series and hoping to bring in a visiting programmer-journalist in so students can learn how to work WITH programmers, which is an important first step.

    • Hi Dan Pacheco, thanks for your input! You touched on some really great stuff.

      I was particularly interested in few things you mentioned. …

      1. “I teach Journalism Innovation at the Newhouse school at Syracuse University. It’s my first year on the job, and I’m learning how things work on an academic campus vs. in media companies or the startup scene, both of which I’ve been in before.”

      -What form of teaching do you tend towards: For example, if your student was learning to drive, would you be…

      A Driving Instructor, as in there along the entire way. (initially!)
      -OR –
      The one who tosses the kid the keys and a driving manual and takes off?

      Or somewhere along the spectrum..?

      2. “Change is slow in universities for real reasons that I won’t get into”
      -Is that part of the problem, that change is slow in universities, within the world of journalism education, what can?

      3. “I want to emphasize that not everything is or even can be taught within a core curriculum”
      -What are your thoughts about collaboratory newsrooms that give students real life, on the job training as a critical part of the program, as in Mercer’s?

      Finally, how would you define journalistic innovation?

      • 1. I do a 30-minute learner’s permit, then toss the keys and get out of the car and point when asked for help.
        2. Universities are normally faculty-governed, which means big changes require a vote. Just like in Democracy. I turn the question back at you and ask: is the fact that Democracy requires people to discuss, agree and vote on big changes the problem or the solution?
        3. I’m in favor of natural, organic collaboration, but never forced collaboration. There’s a chemistry to this stuff because we’re all human.
        4. Innovation is as innovation does. We all advance by trying new things, learning from what works and what doesn’t, and most importantly not stopping. If I ever stop trying new things I cease to be innovative, although I can say I was once an innovator.

      • Terrific breakdown Dan, especially your take on organic collaboration rather than a forced effort. The chemistry you speak about it is precisely what’s at the heart of good journalism to begin with. The education that most of us get (I’m a second-year grad student) is geared towards either an independent journey or a “here’s your team, go do some work” sort of mantra. I’m fortunate enough to be in a program that straddles the line a bit, but would ultimately like to see your fourth point (re: innovation) be a more commonly explored portion of j-school curriculum – especially when it comes to incorporating computer science (and coding!), along with more intensive business strategy studies.

    • I want to echo Dan’s comment that “not everything is or even can be taught within a core curriculum.” Among all the heated discussions of adding data and coding into a journalism curriculum core, I say that coding better be offered as an elective advanced course, and the use of digital tools should be part of a required intro digital journalism course. See more of my arguments at http://www.mulinblog.com/2013/03/04/how-to-teach-data-journalism-required-intro-and-elective-high-end/

      Let’s face it: learning to code is formidable, and do we really want to make coding a required course for journalism students? Besides, the many digital data tools, once mastered, can take care of many day-to-day data visualization needs.

      In my view, a future newsroom can hire a data specialist to help with data needs of the staff; for the other reporters and editors, they may just need enough training to be a “data generalist.”

      We haven’t been training every journalism student to be an expert copy editor – we have dedicated copy editor in the newsroom; so why are we now expecting students to be expert data specialist?

      • Agreed. It’s always good to learn about a new coding language or technology. In the process you figure out quickly if it’s something you can master with time, or if you just need to know enough to be dangerous. That’s when you then get out of the way and learn to communicate your ideas to a true virtuoso who can get take it to the next level. Then, this is the important part. You get out of the way!

  22. Hello! A bit late weighing in but wanted to add a few more thoughts:

    I understand that it’s very difficult to shape curriculum for an ever-changing industry. In my blog post (linked in the piece), my main thought was expressing the frustrations I had in my experience (I was the first undergrad journalism/CS major at my school).

    Columbia’s program is great. But correct me if I’m wrong – that’s only a master’s program?

    Also wanted to acknowledge and recognize the effort behind these issues in teaching journalism, and am very happy to have sparked more of a discussion about what we can be doing going forward.

    • Welcome Katie – we’re stoked to have you join the conversation – the post inspired by a number of practical questions you threaded through out your post – Re-Thinking J-School (https://medium.com/i-m-h-o/b8d43e4c204d). You’re right, I do note Columbia’s masters program – but it is a start! There are signs of life and adaptation and possibility, but the market is changing so fast, and the way news is produced, served and consumed is not a fixed target. One of the points you make in your Re-Thinking post – “I think the bigger issue is leveraging the existing resources (outside of the j-school) at universities to supplement journalism curriculum.” — and then you also make a great point below, talking with Ramiro, about the skill of “learning how to learn” — on both these points, I’m betting you have some ideas… How would you like to see the university supplement curriculum? And as part of that, learning how to integrate continual learning? Got ideas?

      • Hello! Thank you for having me. It’s awesome to be a part of this discussion.

        It definitely is a start, and we need more similar initiatives. The challenge I see builds on something you touched on – the fast-paced market and industry standards around data journalism and news application development. How do you architect a curriculum that is itself adaptable and not rigid so that it allows for change?

        Yep. I’m a big proponent of learning how to learn. That’s the skill that is most valuable in my eyes.

        So a few half-baked ideas of mine:
        +Awareness is the first step. Faculty and material in classes in journalism schools simply to tell students about these different numerical fields and the potential opportunities / trajectories. That should be done immediately for freshmen.
        +Compile a list of relevant classes in stats, math, computer science, recommendable for journalism students. Giving underclassmen concrete action items I think is key, and hopefully this spurs intellectual curiosity.
        +To that end, sparking intellectual curiosity about this stuff, showcasing interesting projects that demonstrate cool things happening in the industry I think is the best way to spark that interest.

      • Woop, too long of a comment. But would love to hear your feedback! That’s just my stream of consciousness.

  23. I’m going to walk the fine line to say that I’m happy with the education that I received, but I know that my alma mater was and is not ready to face the larger changes in the field of journalism. The basics on ethics and process were well taught, but new ideas like big data reporting were lacking.

    Although I learned basic web coding and some great simple data systems, I’m dying to learn more about programing and database management.

    I did find an internship that provided that experience, but was too short a timeframe to become a strong practitioner of things like php and javascript.

    Our work now more than ever will be required to engage. It feels like a majority of the industry is always a step behind. First in social media, now in mobile platforms.

    Keep in mind, I’m not talking about national publications (although there are some that aren’t up to speed) but more of the regional dailies. These new formats could become a vigorous new format to engage audiences.

    • Engagement and the requisite skills to build the tools for that. Storytelling with all the tech resources we have at our disposal is a beast of its own and teaching this foundation should be a priority for academic institutions.

    • As a journalism school administrator and a journalism ethics teacher, I also see a challenge in helping students wrestle with the ethical difficulties embedded in the technological tools they’ll be using. I’m thinking about things like verifying information on social media, accounting for errors in big data sets and accurately representing complex data in visualizations. Lots of other challenges, too, but this is an important one to address in both skills courses and ethics classes.

      • Hi David, thanks for joining in. I’m curious, how do you see students getting real world experience in combination with their skills courses and ethics classes – to anchor theory to practice? It’s one of the really big challenges as the market and advances in technology (and consumer attention span) drives the pace of innovation at neck breaking speed. As an example, in one of the market interviews I did with a thought leader from IBM shared a concern about the tension “between market demand and need to serve the republic” as critically important. Other market interviews with business leaders have consistently surfaced in aggregate the hope that journalism focuses more on “getting it right” than “getting there first.” How does the University of Oklahoma’s program blend classroom lessons with the challenges students will face in the marketplace as graduates, while still maintaining journalistic integrity in their reporting?

      • That’s a very good point – the ethics of data is a beast in its own. Simply not scaling axes properly can skew readers’ perception of the story that the data is telling. (See http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/02/13/171935151/chart-check-did-obama-s-graphics-enhance-his-big-speech for a few more data integrity examples).

        Are you incorporating the things you mentioned in your classes now?

      • To address both Lisa’s and Katie’s questions, I’m talking a lot in my journalism ethics class about challenges that journalists face in using social media – particularly verification. Last fall I focused one class session on ethical issues in data journalism, but I’m going to beef that up next time because there’s so much to discuss. (Katie, your example of scaling axes improperly is a good one.) I connect these topics to the real world by using examples from interviews I do with journalists, guest appearances by journalists on Skype or in person, people I follow on Twitter, and conferences I attend where journalists and/or professors are talking about these issues. I think both faculty and graduates will have to continually educate themselves in ways like this to prepare for the challenges of a marketplace that is in a continual state of flux.

        We talk about ethics in a number of our classes, both skills courses and conceptual classes. We probably still need to talk more about ethics related to use of technological tools.

  24. Picking up on a question Stacey asks here – “I’m curious: What are people who are just getting out of school leaning towards, freelancing in digital/multimedia journalism or joining a larger organization? Or are students just getting internships and not being paid for the quality of their work? Or are they all giving up and entering PR?”–

    There seems to be a range of play on how grads are finding success (or frustration) – many are moving to different locations for better opportunities. I’ve been hearing a number of students, and recent grads, finding success through internships into jobs – paying their dues up front but getting a lot out of it at the other end. Does that resonate, or do internships mean different things in different places or programs?

    • I think a lot of students are going the internship into jobs route because the job market is difficult for recent grads. I think the current generation of students is less concerned about the where of the job and more concerned about the what. Getting a foot in the door at the right company is the focus. I’m not sure what percentage of students go into freelancing, but I think coming out of school most students probably want the structure and security of a position at a company.

  25. Welcome, everyone, to explore the question: What kind of journalism education today best sets students up for success tomorrow?

    As offered in the post above, let’s kick off the conversation around three main questions:

    1. How do you, as J-school students and recent graduates, hope to gain the skills and insight to deliver new forms of journalism that thrive?
    2. What most excites you about journalism and your place in it?
    3. What most frustrates you as you think about your future in journalism?

    As you share your comments – cite examples and post links, so as you have useful context, others can play this forward. (Note! links automatically format in the comment box.)

    We’ll be posting comments across our social networks to broaden the conversation and encourage you to do so as well. We welcome you to invite others, fellow students, professors, or mentors in your community you think have a stake in the future of journalism education. Join in & bring your voice to the conversation!

    • Having graduated with a master’s degree in Journalism from UO’s SOJC, I am now eager to get some real world experience. While there is still a lot for me to learn, I find that I learn best while *doing*. I want to get my hands dirty and really get a feel for what journalism is turning into. By being open to new ideas, and working closely with experts and professionals who are actively in the field, I hope to keep up with this evolving career path. The best way I can do that is by making connections while also making use of online resources and social media.

      Most exciting for me about journalism is how easily we can now connect with our own communities and really set into motion more community-driven collaborative journalism. By working together, we as journalists can collaborate with the community on stories or important issues that need a voice.

      I think what most frustrates me about journalism is the same thing that’s really new and great about it: Social Media. Since we are a generation who are fully online, we can really take advantage of the possibilities that it offers us. But it has its pitfalls (ex.Boston Marathon Bombing Media Errors)

    • I think the best way to gain skills and insights into journalism is through firsthand experience. I think internships and blogging are two great ways for students to learn about journalism. Internships offer students the chance to work in a news room and learn about working on a deadline. I think blogging is key because it teaches new skills, such as researching, content-creation, and content-promotion.

      I think social media and the real-time power of tools like Twitter make it so people can be a part of the news. Recent tragedies have shown that society wants its news quickly and it wants it to be factually correct. Good journalists must focus on telling the story, without becoming the story. When journalists focus too much on being the first to report they often risk credibility and can promote misinformation. I think my role in journalism is that of curator, someone who collects news and disseminates it.

      The most frustrating thing about journalism is when journalists focus on being fast rather than being factually correct. Disseminating false information can be damaging. Journalists must adapt to the changing media landscape.

      • Hey Ben & Stacey, thanks for joining the conversation. And to Nicole for kicking it off! Hey — Ben, as you close your comment with “journalists must adapt” — what does that mean in your view? As you note the importance of quality with a premium on factual correctness — do you think its better the journalism be more of a slow drip? Meaning not first out with a story (which has been the tradition of news over time). But that it be more about deeper reporting? or broader context or more data rich coverage? (which takes more time…) — what do you think this adaptation “in the changing media landscape” could look like — with all the means of delivery available with the click of a journalist’s mouse?

      • +1 to a slow news movement! I recently stumbled upon this new project – http://retroreport.org/ – which seeks to follow up on old headlines that whizzed by. It’s great to see some folks dedicated addressing one of my biggest journalism pet peeves, which is lack of followup and re-contextualization.

      • What a perfect example of slow news! I looked at http://retroreport.org/ and definitely see this as an approach to news that is way overdue. Nonetheless, it’s I think that following up on a story in this digital age could help combine the modes in which the story was told and maybe audio/video to help the audience get better context and a genuine idea of the passage of time.

        As far as getting into a story so that the coverage is more thorough and data-rich, I’d say that’s definitely something journalists can do now that we have such a great many of ways to present the story. But as far as getting out the story right away, there’s importance in that as well. Is there some way of differentiating out tweets that are speculation or misinformation simply because it’s too early in the story to have the whole story?

        I’m curious: What are people who are just getting out of school leaning towards, freelancing in digital/multimedia journalism or joining a larger organization? Or are students just getting internships and not being paid for the quality of their work? Or are they all giving up and entering PR?

      • I think that the role of twitter in the scope of journalism is one of either an aggregator, pulling together firsthand accounts to shape the narrative of an event, or as a means of getting on the trail of scoop. I remember reading about a college student in DC who had created a twitter account in which she posted the names of those killed in violent crime in the city. In the interview, she stated that her main concern was getting the facts correct. She would check and double check in order to be sure that she was reporting the correct information, and still got the information out before the news outlets. To me, this is an example of a marriage between high-speed new media and factually accurate reporting.

      • I think journalists must balance the need to report quickly with the need to provide factual information. Journalists do not want to create a panic by spreading false information. I think it’s important for journalists to have reliable information and sources before tweeting or publishing articles. The Retro Report is interesting because the media is a spotlight, in the sense that it can illuminate certain topics or issues and then completely cause them to be removed from focus.

    • I’m going to keep my answer short and simple: The best kind of journalism education is one in which students are adequately prepared for realities of this changing industry. Unfortunately many tenured professors come with a more “traditional” skill set, which makes things complicated.

      Any student coming out of j-school in 2013 should be happy to get a Web gig, a social gig. There are simply not enough jobs out there for people I call “print snobs.”

      And, of course, lots and lots of internships are always a good thing.

      • Hello everyone. I have been reading this conversation and not weighing in yet, but the point Ethan makes above really hit home.

        I am a journalism school graduate and a victim of having been taught the aforementioned “traditional” skill set. I’ve been looking for a job for two years now. I’ve been supporting myself with a bartending job and occasional freelancing work for my local paper, but am really trying to look outside of the box now and extend my skills to become more marketable in this new digital age. I definitely can’t afford to be a “print snob” anymore. At this point, I would gladly accept a Web gig or a social gig, but don’t have the digital portfolio built up to qualify for one.

        Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to build that portfolio?

      • Thanks for this, Ramiro. You bring up a very good issue, one that Stacey touched upon as well. Are journalism school graduates finding jobs doing what they thought they would be doing, or are they moving into other industries such as marketing and PR? I have colleagues in the same boat as Ramiro who have been struggling for years to find the job they imagined having while in school.

        Another point I’m hearing is that the expectations for journalism jobs have changed drastically. Ramiro (and others), what are some specific skills agencies are expecting you to have that you weren’t taught and never thought you would have to learn?

      • I agree with this. One of the most valuable skills that should be taught (but is hard to be taught) is learning how to learn.

      • Skills that I never thought I would have to learn in order to be a qualified journalist: social media management, coding, data visualization… I know there are more.

        I went to school because I wanted to write for a living, to be a vehicle of truth, do solid reporting. I understand that times are changing and we all need to be flexible, but sometimes I feel like this is not the occupation I signed up for anymore.

      • I see where you’re coming from Ramiro. Writing and reporting will always be essential, but these added skills with coding, data visualization, and other ways to use big data will suppliment the reporting and writing, not replace it.

      • As for how to expand your own portfolio, why not try a niche blog, and use social media to build an audience? Choose a local topic that you can dominate over the standard media.

        If you can get a decent following, you could present that as your personal audience, which could help you land a job.

      • Ramiro, you can build up your portfolio through volunteering and (primarly) unpaid internship…that way you can be integrated into the media tools and processes used today. You can still be a vehicle of truth, but now your reach can be farther with the help of digital media & technology advances of today.

        How much time would you like your educational experience be spent on teaching these skills? There’s a balance of educating new digital technologies while continuing to offer a substantial education in quality news writing (with some tweaks..like writing for the web).

        Are journalism schools are sometimes getting caught up in the technology that they decrease time spent educating good, solid reporting. Are students seeing the focus on new media technologies outweighing an education in good solid reporting? Or enhancing it? Or both?

        Most j-schools require internships to get students hands-on experience, others are even setting classes within a workplace environment as in the example set by Mercer’s Center for Collaborative Journalism’s joint newsroom. Are internships after coursework enough or do you want real-life experience in the classroom, as part of the coursework?

      • I would like to add design to Ramiro’s list of important to learn skills. Whether for a website, personal blog, or newsletter, having more than just basic Photoshop knowledge is extremely helpful. In addition to making your content more visually pleasing and accessible, I’ve found that having skills in apps like InDesign and Illustrator make you more marketable to employers. In my undergrad communication program, there really was no emphasis on these types of programs outside of Graphic Design or Film and Media Arts degrees.

      • After getting my latest “rejection email” in the year and a half I have been job hunting following my masters degree, I may be a little salty about the skills/degree/experience cocktail that we are told will make us “successful”.

        I definitely get riled up when I hear about journalists encouraging young people to take on these “unpaid internships” (which are the norm, I know, I’ve been there) As more and more companies are offering these unpaid internships, and more colleges are requiring internships, it becomes much more difficult to find places that will put their money where their mouths are, and hire people who have the experience and/or schooling to do the jobs that need to be done. There’s so darn much emphasis on “building your portfolio” and laboring for a company FOR FREE, but what the hell are you supposed to eat while you’re doing that?

        Then, you’re told that you’re “overqualified” for this job and have “not enough experience” for the job that is ONE STEP ABOVE the other one you were just rejected for.

        I have no solutions, and for that I am sorry.

      • Rebecca, thanks for your candor — speaking to what you’re finding/have found transitioning from school to the field. Internships are tricky, different experiences and results seem to depend on school, market, company policies and how deeply alumni or the neighboring business community are “built in” to the academic program. Syracuse is doing this in the most innovative way we’ve seen in the sample we’re looking at. Sean Brannigan leads this program (@NewhouseStartup) — on the start up end of a partnership with Dan Pacheco (who is here & @JournovationSU). Together they collaborate closely, the program rich with applicability for students as they get in to the job market.

        I’m curious, have you tapped into the 100’s of independent publishers across the country? — the block by block community news movement (http://www.micheleslist.org/), there are over 80 publishers in the growing INN network (http://investigativenewsnetwork.org/members), & the Association of Alternative Newsmedia is 130 publishers strong (http://www.altweeklies.com/aan/Directories/Newsweeklies) – Also! check out JA resource index, or “people” on the JA, nearly 500 peers you can network with!

      • I completely agree that too many companies justify not paying a talented worker or intern, by claiming that they are providing this golden opportunity to “build your portfolio”. While that is definitely an important consideration for any writer, journalist or creative, it is not enough to justify free labor. I think it disrespectful to not recognize the talents of an employee with some form of compensation. In the grand scheme of things, we all attend (and pay for) school in order to get a job that will pay well and allow us to build a life for ourselves. Many journalism schools, and universities in general, claim to provide excellent career services but I think much more could be done for recent grads still struggling to find decent, paid jobs

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