Challenge for journalists and educators

There’s this debate in journalism classrooms: How much time do you spend training students on software and how much time do you spend teaching about the actual thought process and skill of being a journalist.  In the industry, the challenge is how can you afford the tech know-how without finding journalists who already know the software.

Honestly, I think it’s a mess.

Some of my students really get the software and they’re going to snag AMAZING jobs.  But the average student shouldn’t be expected to understand the nitty gritty of CSS and Action Script 2.0 and 3.0.  I think most students should understand what technology can do.  If they understand the potential, then they can team up with someone who knows the tech side of things and communicate his or her need.  Even better… If I show them the basics, they they can take the initiative to learn more outside of class.

Right now, I teach the basics of Flash to my students so they understand its potential.  If I understood Flex and had a basic understanding of that, I’d do the same with it.  I think students who can think on a multi-layer, interactive level can think about delivering news differently.  Once you know how to deliver news differently, you start to realize that life doesn’t have to be linear anymore.  There are new ways to present, explain and share.  Until now, journalism had a starting and ending point.  Now it can be up to the online user to decide what they want to learn.  They can stay as long or as short as they’d like.  They can come back and learn more if they want.  They can choose to ignore all of it or expand their research beyond what one website has to offer.

It’s a new world.  Not everyone is going to take advantage of it all.  I hope I can at least offer the gift of understanding what’s out there to my students.

1 comment so far ↓

#1 Chris on 06.23.09 at 5:24 pm

It’s a tricky one. In some ways I think that teaching software skills and teaching journalism skills go hand-in-hand. If you are to re-think how you go about telling stories with digital technology, you have to know some of skills yourself. The more you appreciate what is and what isn’t possible/sustainable, the better.

I teach the basics of HTML and CSS to students, as well as how to embed code from places like YouTube and Twitter. I also teach the basics of Flash. I figure, the better their foundation, the more flexibility they’ll have out in the workforce.

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