If you want to see the future of UK journalism, it’s often best to look at America. So it’s interesting to see the following statistic to come from research by David Wendelken:
“even the smallest commercial newspapers, with 10,000 readers or fewer, are looking for reporting candidates with experience writing for the Web and uploading stories to the Internet, according to a survey of newspaper managing editors conducted by Wendelken and Toni B. Mehling of James Madison University. Of nine respondents in the “large daily newspaper” category (those with a circulation of 44,000 and above), eight required reporters to have skills in capturing audio while four required audio editing skills. Five required reporters to have skills in capturing video, while one required video editing expertise. Major newspapers, said Wendelken, “are looking at reporters to do these things from the start.”
And the problem isn’t just those who think teaching journalists Dreamweaver is ‘online journalism’. It’s students’ own dated conceptions of the journalism industry:
“A lot of college students select their medium in high school. When they come onto campus, they’re already a TV person or a radio person or a newspaper person,” said Wendelken.
“I’m a print journalist,” he continued, imitating the attitude of many aspiring journalists. “Why do I need to learn video?”
Of course we’ve had people like Trinity Mirror’s Head of Multimedia saying they want people who know their RSS from their elbow* for months now, but this is the first survey with some concrete figures from people on the ground. It underlines the fact that journalism courses shouldn’t be teaching online journalism as an additional ‘option’ any more. An understanding of new media has become essential.
*The first and last time I will use that hackneyed phrase. Honest.