Make journalism training multiskilled
Digital technologies are completely changing the face of journalism. This transformation presents new challenges for training journalists because it’s no longer practicable for upcoming reporters to only have skills in a single medium.
Instead, during their training, journalists need to be exposed to diverse narrative forms and modes of representation used in all media, from radio and television to print and online.
In a recent publication, German academics Klaus Meier, Vanessa Giese and Tobias Schweigmann called for a cross-media training concept.
“The ability to be innovative is the new challenge that every future journalist has to face,” they write in their article, Crossing the Media.
“And that means instead of media lecturers and trainers teaching journalism as they have in the past decades, they need to be open to new ideas and need to be able to assess where the transformation of journalism and the media is taking journalism.”
The three lecturers believe journalism training needs to focus on imparting new skills in three main areas.
1. Cross-media editorial management and job organization.
“Journalism students need to be taught, and experience for themselves, the organizational challenges of differing cross-media editorial models as well as gaining news desk and newsroom experience. The students shouldn’t just learn about the ensuing organizational issues but also about editorial concepts, editorial marketing and quality management.
How can diverse media channels reach their public by strategically complementing each other instead of competing with each other as was previously the case? How do you organize cross-media meetings and how do you coordinate the diverse media channels? How can all media channels accommodate an active public and feedback that mostly is on the Internet.”
2. Research and storytelling across media boundaries
Journalism students need to learn how to handle the recurring daily challenge of deciding which media channel is best suited to a certain topic and also which step in the publication workflow is most suitable.
“A mandatory skill for journalist students is to ‘think in all media’. Individuals can then decide if they want to learn to produce in all media. Specialists who only ‘think’ in other media may continue to exist. But there will be an increasing number of generalists who will learn and become skilled in all media formats.
In every cross-media training, the basic conflict always arises between generalists (disparaged as ‘egg-laying woolly pigs’ in extreme cases) and specialists (disparaged as ‘wearing blinkers’). Basically, within limits, it should be left to upcoming journalists to decide if they want to deepen their knowledge of a particular media and becomes specialists (for example, for long and complex narrative forms of a media) or whether they want to make a name for themselves as generalists in a converging media world.”
3. The hypermediality of the Internet
“All journalism students need to learn about online narrative styles and procedures for dealing with an active public because sooner or later they will all have something to do with the Internet (even those who are offline media specialists).
Learning about multimedia narration means learning how video, audio, photos and text are used differently on the Internet compared to TV, radio and print channels.”
This excerpt was taken from the article ‘Crossing the media: the concept of the cross-medial laboratory’ by Klaus Meier, Vanessa Giese and Tobias Schweigmann in “Didactics of Journalism”, 2012, 314-315.
Translation: Kate Hirsine
Photo credit: Guy Degen