As an addendum to my 3 part series on how journalism education is changing I wanted to round up some practical steps and examples.
To recap: in the first part I talked about how changes in the news industry were reflected in changing journalism education. In the second I looked at how education itself is reacting to changes in information. The third looked at the relationship between the two.
But how are journalism schools and courses reacting to these changes?
I’ve outlined a lot of issues and ideas in the previous posts, so here is a more concise list of ways that education is adapting to the new information environment, changes in the news industry, and in the relationship with news organisations:
- Taking a lead in identifying best practice in new journalism skills – and transmitting that back to the news industry
- Reshaping its perception of what the ‘journalism industry’ is – and making connections with the new players
- Moving from platform-based teaching to multiplatform working throughout the curriculum. In some cases this is through a shift from single-tutor modules to team-teaching until enough individuals have the mix of skills required; in others it’s through creating project-based modules where students opt to take skills workshops.
- Working with industry to identify problems facing that industry, and providing the infrastructure for students to research those problems and experiment with solutions.
- Providing the infrastructure for students to establish new media businesses
- Moving from transmitting information to students to teaching the skills to find and filter the information most relevant to their objectives
- Moving from acting as a gatekeeper to the industry to teaching students how to establish their own contacts through networks and through building their online reputation
- Teaching journalism, rather than ‘how to be a journalist’
The final point bears some further explanation. At the EJC event that prompted me to write this series of posts, the panel I was part of was asked: how can you teach journalism when the concept of what a ‘journalist’ is has become so contested?
The question was revealing. In platform-based journalism teaching, students are often taught how to work within particular production workflows. For example, they might be trained by taking a press release and rewriting it into something that fits into a newspaper or magazine. Or they might attend a mock (or real) press conference and write up the results.
In other words, they are trained to take the existing or historical position of ‘journalist’.
These all reflect common practices in mainstream journalism – but they do not prepare students for how it might change in the next decade, nor for emerging forms.
As journalists have to work across an increasing number of platforms, to differing audiences, and to deal with information which is also coming from more and more sources, teaching a particular ‘content factory line’ process is likely to become less relevant.
Employers will be (and are) frustrated at graduates who can spot a story in a press release but not a tweet, forum thread, or dataset; at those who can write a 300 word print piece but cannot adapt their style for the latest web platform; who will buy one source a drink but not invest the same time in building trust with dozens on social networks.
Workflow experience is still key, but workflow systems have already changed a number of times in the past 10 years, and will continue to change.
In the absence of certainty around what those will be, journalism educators are focusing on core skills and the flexibility to adapt those to new situations; or indeed, to invent them themselves.
Do you find the same factors playing out in your own experience?
I’m collecting examples of all of these and similar processes so if you know of examples or changes I’ve missed please let me know.