Demand for Revolution?

Have you seen the latest report from National Council for Journalists?

Their major finding: Editors still prize traditional skills. One editor in the report said:

An ability to spot a story, conduct a strong interview and then produce clean, legally sound, well-structured copy remains the priority,” said one editor, “with these key skills everything else (social media, video etc) will follow.

Another finding in the report suggests that understanding audience interaction and digital skills were low-totem-poll priorities. The report concluded: “What is required is for the exam to evolve; there is no demand for a revolution.”

I do a ton of interviews with journalists and always end with the question, “what should I be teaching our students, your future employees?” And the answer has always been the same: Good reporting, writing skills. Always good to be reminded. This is a no-brainer.

And yet some of the dialogue in this report distresses me, particularly the de-emphasis on digital skills such as interactivity. My interviews with audience members suggest they want immediate information they can connect with and do something with.

It occurs to me that the industry is not doing so hot right now. Perhaps we need to rethink skill priority in the effort of experimenting with new content and revenue platforms. I’m not saying do away with good reporting and good writing skills — these are what help set journalists apart from all the other noise. However, my interviews with audience members indicate that if journalists want to remain relevant to their lives, reporters need to re-learn how best to apply those reporting and writing skills in new kinds of formats and presentation styles with linking pathways and connection opportunities.

Revolution may be in order.

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