Two years ago, the Minister of Tertiary Education and Skills Training decided to launch an on the job training program in media. In preparation for the venture, my College’s School of Journalism and Communication Studies worked in collaboration with the ministry and the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago and assembled a focus group with media owners to discuss their expectations of journalists. Darren Lee-Sing, the President of the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers Association (TTPBA), simply said that they need a generalist. Whether a journalist is fresh out of high school or College, employers want someone with multiple skills.
Anyone who wants to be a journalist, regardless of the ubiquity of social media news, must still be a good writer. Excellent writing skills are just as important today for the contemporary journalist, as they were for journalists of yesteryear. “Journalists today still need to be able to gather information and tell a story. Most importantly, they need to be able to think” (Cubreporter, 2010).
In this era of new technology “Skills like … ethics, news judgment, investigation and verification will always be important, Buttry from Gazette Communications said. ” (Lavurisk, 2009). With these traditional skills, the quality of news reports would be continuously improving.
Another essential skill that modern journalists should posses is multimedia competence. However, research conducted by the Poynter Institute reveals that “professional journalists lag behind educators and others in rating the importance of multimedia and other digital storytelling skills” (Fineberg, 2014). On average 75% of the educators and 50% of the professionals surveyed agreed that the ability “to record and edit audio; shoot and edit video; shoot and edit photos and tell stories with design and visuals” was important (Fineberg, 2014).
Finally, the capacity to multitask is the hallmark of any good journalist. Gathering information, interviewing, and monitoring incoming email, while live tweeting or posting on Facebook are the multiple activities that engage the journalist’s attention (Geiser, 2014). Without this skill, the journalist would perish in the fast paced world of news production.
Good clear writing, critical thinking, multitasking and being tech savvy are essential skills that employers would require of anyone pursuing a career in journalism. These skills will assist them with capturing the attention and interest of the audience, who has many options for news from which to choose.
Cubreporter. (2010). Becoming a journalist in the digital age. Retrieved from http://cubreporters.org/journalism_careers.html
Fineberg, H. (2014, April 9). Journalism needs the right skills to survive. Retrieved from http://www.poynter.org/how-tos/journalism-education/246563/journalism-needs-the-right-skills-to-survive/
Geiser, J. (2014, November 25). 8 essential skills for anchorshttp://www.poynter.org/how-tos/writing/118945/8-essential-skills-for-anchors-any-journalist-covering-breaking-news
Lavursik, V. (2009, Dec 9). 8 Must have traits of tomorrow’s journalist. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2009/12/09/future-journalist/#W.WEacb_qukG