How well future journalists are being prepared by ‘journalism school’ is the focus of this article, considering the perceptions that veteran digital journalists hold about journalism education. This is an important body of opinion as this group has considerable input into hiring and the research draws on in-depth interviews with 29 U.S.-based journalists.
Digital journalism is no longer new – it has soon been a key part of journalism for soon two decades – and before that there were pioneers breaking out into this brave new world (such as this writer). Yet today, just as back then, there can be differences in education as given by educators, many of which claim to have industry experience. I recall in 1990 arguing with a lecturer about the need for a manual typewriter (to undertake all mandatory course work) as computers were the future and I had been using them gor many years, even within journalism. It fell on death ears, so I had to comply… but I have never used a typewriter afterwards for journalism.
Anyway, the author does a good job in presenting an engaging and informative introduction that leads into a credible literature review. The article sought to discover perceptions about journalism training and discover additional ways of giving instructors new and relevant material that can bridge the gap between instruction and real-world operational experience. The research method was sound and uncontentious, leading to three key themes of technological adaption, critical thinking and accountability emerging when the data was analysed.
Analysis and discussion was relevant and useful, noting that whilst digital skills are important, educators should focus on basic and timeless journalist skills that are technology-neutral. Making a great video edit of a bad story is less useful. The story should still be at its heart, and its subsequent deployment, in whatever media, can then build on it. Such a statement may sound obvious, but sadly often the most obvious things get overlooked when there are more ‘interesting’ or ‘sexy’ things to play with, such as new technology.
On one hand, this research is not breaking new ground, but its value is arguably in showing that senior editorial figures still value traditional journalist qualities that, in turn, are built on with the ‘new’ digital opportunities and tools. You still need a good, sound story!
This article was an interesting, thoughtful read that may slightly restore one’s faith in journalism and its core competencies.
Ferrucci, P., 2017. “We’ve Lost the Basics”: Perceptions of Journalism Education From Veterans in the Field. Journalism & Mass Communication Educator. DOI:10.1177/1077695817731870
A post-publication review of this article that appears on Publons.