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Study: Journalists and instructors differ on most important skills


The skills that journalists must possess aren’t exactly the skills that aspiring journalists’ professors think they should have. That’s the biggest takeaway from a recent Poynter Institute study. 

“The Core Skills for the Future of Journalism” reveals that j-school professors think multimedia and digital storytelling skills are more important than actual journalists think they are. 

From MediaBistro’s 10,000 Words blog: 

For example, with photography, regarded by many as an essential skill for today’s smartphone-wielding journalists, 53 percent of professionals said that the ability to shoot and edit photographs was important to very important as opposed to 79 percent of educators. 

There was also a gap between pros and educators regarding the use of audio where only 38 percent of professionals said the skills needed to record and edit audio were important as compared to more than 70 percent of educators. 

One thing they can agree upon is accuracy. A full 99 percent of professionals and educators ranked accuracy as the top skill a journalist must possess. 

But why the discrepancy when it comes to all the newfangled technology? 

It could have something to do with the fact that newsrooms believe that they can teach multimedia on the fly, but they can’t teach the basics of storytelling. 

Another theory comes from Howard Finberg, who co-authored the study. He tells MediaBistro, “…One theory for the gap is that professionals at legacy media are so focused on the day to day that they can’t see the horizon. It takes special leadership to make sure everyone knows what’s coming in the future and why it is important.” 

In its conclusion, the study offers this piece of advice for practicing journalists: 

It is time to raise the level of importance of all of these skills because it is time for newsrooms, regardless of platform, to value journalists who have a depth of proficiencies and a broader vision of the media world they work in. These skills are not just for the future; these skills are needed today to create dynamic, engaged and audience-driven publications and broadcasts.

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