One of France’s main journalism schools, the Centre de Formation des Journalistes, has just launched a revamped new media curriculum, where all students are now required to specialize in new media on top of their traditional skills.
The participants agreed that journalists will need to excel in what used to be their core competency, namely to gather, sort, order and check information. Now, they’ll just have to do that online, with the help of a community of amateurs they’ll manage and, hopefully, leverage.
They’ll also develop skills to edit content themselves and they’ll keep these up-to-date.
Finally, as the web means more and more fragmentation and individualisation, they’ll know the mechanisms of the new economy and they’ll be able to read and react to audience figures.
The 2009 journalist will stand at a crossroads between the traditional, passé reporter, the techie and the marketing guy. How can such a ménage à trois work within a single body?
Three weeks after the start of the programme, it appears it’ll take some time. Emmanuel Parodi, business developer at Les Echos and lecturer in the programme, was surprised how little students knew about Digg, RSS, Facebook and the like. As they all have to keep a blog and a netvibes account for the duration of the programme, no doubt such technical shortcomings will be overcome quickly.
The lecturers’ bête noire remains the students’ conviction that participative journalism inherently devalues their work. Students are told they will have to share some power with the hoi polloi and they fear it, says Parodi.
Lecturing on the online media economic landscape myself, I was taken aback when some students affirmed that their raison d’être was to safeguard democracy (sic) and that their noble mission could not suffer being hampered with financial considerations. A flurry of anti-capitalistic jabber followed, underlining the difficulty of getting some journalists to think of themselves as economic agents.
When someone is utterly convinced she’s above the economy, the need to adapt when the economy changes clearly does not cross her mind. No matter how much XML or Java they learn.
This article was written by Nicolas Kayser-Bril, one of the Online Journalism Blog’s Virtual Interns