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Abstract

As journalism organizations have made the transition to digital publications, social media platforms and mobile applications, journalists’ technology skills have been put to the test. Many professional organizations have decried the lack of essential digital competencies and the need for training. In 2014, the Poynter Institute released its Core Skills for the Future of Journalism report, detailing 37 key skills or attributes and knowledge areas (Finberg & Klinger, 2014). More recently, the International Center for Journalism's 2017 survey on The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms found “a perilous digital skills gap” in newsrooms worldwide (ICFJ, 2017). Based on a survey of more than 2,700 journalists and newsroom managers in 130 countries across 12 languages, ICFJ concluded that many newsrooms were lacking in 23 core digital skills. These skills include: digital photography, engaging audience on social media, using analytics and web statistics, video production and editing and working with graphics, among others. Not surprisingly, these calls to action from industry leaders have not gone unnoticed in the academy. Education organizations such as the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the Broadcast Education Association and the Journalism Educators Association have written reports or held workshops addressing the integration of digital skills into the curriculum. However, based on our experience a number of obstacles, including accreditation and lack of faculty expertise, prevent curriculum overhaul, leading these digital skills to be implemented less efficiently and effectively than industry leaders might desire. Our pilot study examines the curricula of undergraduate journalism and mass communication programs in the Middle East to evaluate whether and how they have included digital skills in their programs. To be included in the census, the program must feature English-language instruction of undergraduate students leading to a bachelor's-equivalent degree in the field and be accredited (either at the program-level or institutional-level) by an internationally recognized organization. For each university, the researchers collected university catalogs, program descriptions and course descriptions. These documents were then analyzed to evaluate the inclusion of ICFJ's 23 digital skills into the journalism and mass communication programs. Our research indicates that programs in the region have been slow to incorporate these digital skills into the curricula despite calls from the industry dating back almost a decade. Skills in video production, website design and audio production were more common, while courses emphasizing analytics, podcasting and virtual reality were far less likely to be offered. Relevant Pillar: Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities: Education, Labor & Migration Our pilot study is aimed at improving education here in Qatar by providing a better understanding of how other journalism and mass communication programs are implementing digital skills instruction into their curricula. Our study serves as a strong foundation for future pedagogy research in the realm of journalism and mass communication education around the world. Ideally, this and subsequent research can help universities better equip their journalism and mass communication students with the skills needed to succeed in an ever-changing media industry. References Finberg, Howard I. & Klinger, Lauren. (2014). “Core Skills For the Future of Journalism.” Poynter Institute. Retrieved from http://www.newsu.org/course_files/CoreSkills_FutureofJournalism2014v2.pdf International Center for Journalism. (2017, October 6). “The State of Technology in Newsrooms.” Nature. Retrieved from http://medium.icfj.org/a-study-of-technology-in-newsrooms-cea3252ce5df

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/content/papers/10.5339/qfarc.2018.SSAHPD1084
2018-03-15
2019-10-19
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