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Getting journalism training right for digital hubs

Journalism trainers and educators will be looking closely at the announcement by Johnston Press that it is bringing print and online newsrooms together and training journalists to shoot video reports. (see my earlier post)

There are clearly many old hacks who still do not see a digital future and Johnston’s director of digital publishing admits to cultural work needing to be done.

Universities too have cultural work to do. Some tutors, often journalists who grew up in print, are less enthusiastic about multi-skilling than others. And there is a real problem of how to teach core skills of writing, news and features, along with law and government and research skills and have time to fit more into the programme.

And we have an industry which one time asks “why are you teaching people these skills we don’t need” and a little later is asking why we are not teaching them.

At the University of Westminster I hope we are getting things more or less right. The Westminster News Online site is a tough assignment, finding news from the rather small Harrow campus, teaching the basic skills of searching out news and features and writing them.

It brings together broadcast and print students on the post graduate diploma in journalism course and allows print students to go out with video cameras. Hits on the site this year show that the audience wants video.

When the new academic year start we will have a new newsroom better equipped to handle mutli-media production.

But it is worrying that the judges for the UK Press Gazette Student Journalism Awards could find only three to put on the shortlist for online journalist of the year. It is the shortest shortlist of them all.

I am glad one of them is Sarah Penn, one of our students, who went out with a camera as well as pencil and notebook. Sarah is also shortlisted for student interviewer of the year. The student’s magazine Gravitas is also among the contenders.

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