The journalism industry is changing, no question about it. Our J-school educators know it, professional journalists know it, news organisations know it and the readers know it. But where it is heading no one actually knows. Many have theories and attempt to map out where the industry will be in 10 years but students can only learn and educators can only teach what the industry practices now. We can only try to pre-empt the skills that may be needed in the near future.
“If journalism is to thrive, this generation of students will have to create things that do not yet exist.”
She believes the way to go from here, for up-and-coming journalists in the future, is to hone entrepreneurial skills with a critical focus on new technologies including applications like google maps, interactive sites and social multimedia. Fortunately for students at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) (map) we have been learning about these vital skills in the subject Online Journalism.
In fact, in the lecture a few weeks ago we had former journalist and now entrepreneurial blogger, Nikki Parkinson who operates her own blog, address this exact issue. She says she was able to get out of the dying journalism industry just before the influx of job cuts started and emphasises it is the best thing she ever did. Nikki is now a self-employed blogger who makes a living out of using her journalistic talents within a business model – but her product is produced in a virtual space.
Last week Daniel Hurst from the Brisbane Times also spoke about his role as a journalist and his duty to live blog from events, speeches and conferences, not just to write hard news stories. This obviously differs from Nikki, who blogs to make money as a privately run business but nonetheless both Nikki and Daniel are a part of this revolutionary shift in the way journalism is performed.
Poynter Institute talks about the skills digital-first newsrooms are looking for (article) in today’s and future journalists. It has posted, on its website, a chat with John Hiner, MLive Media Group’s vice president of content, who believes its hard to change journalists’ habitual behaviour.
The reality is, we can teach people to use the technology. The biggest hurdle we have had is ingrained behaviors that are skewed toward legacy outcomes. The daily deadline. The print-length story. Staying in the bubble, inside of the citadel that is most newsrooms.
So for journalism students we need to broaden our minds, think outside the box, or the ‘citadel newsroom’. Everything we learn in today’s classes at university may have gone out of the window by the time we are practicing in the industry.
At the moment journalism is walking the thin, blurry, intangible line, integrating traditional formats and styles of journalism with new interactive, Web 2.0 culture technologies that take news into a virtual 3D world.
But, one thing is clear, it is moving forward and has morphed into a hybrid industry.
As many experts predict – journalism in the future will be digital. So while we’re learning about writing for TV, Radio and Print news we need to be looking at what’s happening in the virtual world. Here is also an Age article on the digital future of journalism.
For current journalism students I think all we can do is equip ourselves with traditional journalistic skills but open our minds to entrepreneurial journalism and new digital ways of sharing information. OR after completing a three-year journalism degree, never become a journalist!
Here are some depressing facts from Poynter :