The future of journalism has been called into question in the face of recent attacks on the media and a decline in traditional print newspaper sales, among other sea changes in the media landscape, including the explosion of media platforms and channels and changing news consumption models. In reality, the future of journalism—and its relative brightness or bleakness—is dependent mostly on whether or not journalists themselves actually change, too.
For current journalists, it’s more important than ever to keep up with such a rapidly changing landscape. Practicing journalists have had to swerve and recalibrate to work with social media and Google News. Journalists also learned that they need to not only tell a good story but they also need to understand what has appeal to their readers.
But what about the next generation of journalists? What can journalism schools do to ensure that journalism students of today are equipped with knowledge on key technologies they will need to thrive in the newsrooms of tomorrow?
To start, journalism schools must teach their students how to utilize the very latest technology platforms. Tools like Dataminr, Chartbeat, and Slack are used by hundreds of newsrooms to cover breaking news, analyze reader engagement, and communicate efficiently with colleagues. Students should be exposed to these technologies in their journalism programs to help them build necessary skills to enter the job market and hit the ground running when they enter a working newsroom.
For example, Dataminr is used in over 400 newsrooms and counting. Journalists live in a world of unexpected and rapidly-moving events, where citizen journalists on the ground report information across multiple platforms, such as social media, that needs to be discovered and further vetted by other sources as it breaks. Because it is simply not possible for a journalist to follow every social media user in every language, new tools can provide the scale and speed required to make sense of enormous volumes of publicly available data in real time. With access to solutions like Dataminr, journalists can receive and act on as-it-happens alerts to help them discover and follow leads for their story.
Another added benefit of incorporating such technology into journalism schools’ curriculum is creating a more realistic learning experience. Students are able to see the same alerts that journalists do, able to track stories and put their combined skills into practice in real time.
Despite the challenges journalists are currently facing, there are still many young people who are fired up and eager to enter the profession. If students learn how to use the latest technology, they will have the knowledge they need to adapt, and pave the way for journalism’s bright future and their own successful careers.