What journalism students need to know

Some folks I follow on Twitter are linking to Dan Gillmor’s post from Tuesday on what he’d do if he ran a j-school. Many of his points sound familiar, but here’s one that really struck me:

Recognize that not all, and probably not most, students will end up as entrepreneurs. But they will all come to appreciate two key elements of entrepreneurship. One is the notion of taking ownership of a process and outcome. The other, which may be the most important single thing students — of all kinds — need in this fast-changing world is an appreciation of ambiguity, and the ability to deal with it. This means reacting to changes around us, being flexible and swift when circumstances change. Ambiguity is not something to fear; it is part of our lives, and we need to embrace it.

There’s a lot of talk about entrepreneurship in journalism these days and I agree with Gillmor that most students will probably not go that route. And he’s so right about taking ownership and being flexible. In the world of digital journalism, things change very quickly and the rate of change seems to just keep accelerating. There’s no escaping it.

I’d like students to not think of this class so much as about how to use this particular digital device or that piece of software. Pretty soon all this stuff will be replaced by something new and different. Entirely new ways of doing journalism will keep emerging — just look at the rise of social media during the last decade. Who knows what’s coming next?

That’s why one of the big ideas of this class, and one that I want each student to absorb no matter their current skills in digital storytelling, is the importance of being adaptable.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!

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One response to “What journalism students need to know

  1. Hi Professor,
    Any profession in the private sector is partially about flexibility, not just journalism. Entrepreneur or not, when you are the boss, you spend a not inconsiderable amount of time putting out fires. That’s when going with the flow comes in handy.

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