The skills employers are looking for in journalists now

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.

download (1)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).    cropped-03-social-media-management87773

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

Fineberg, H.  (2014, April 9).  Journalism needs the right skills to survive.  Retrieved from

Geiser, J.  (2014, November 25).  8 essential skills for anchors

Lavursik, V.  (2009, Dec 9).  8 Must have traits of tomorrow’s journalist.  Retrieved from


Tasks in journalism that are done differently due to new technology

The days of journalists writing for print or broadcast exclusively are long gone.  With convergence journalism, journalists are required to produce news for multiple platforms, including new media. Earlier this year, our College’s School of Journalism and Communication Studies hosted a symposium in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day and we invited Alison Bethel-McKenzie, the former executive director of the International Press Institute to be our feature speaker.  In conversations with the faculty and school’s administration, she shared that if she were still in the 4 Evans pjr_cvr_v13_1 technology
newsroom and was required to produce news for various platforms by employing multiple tools, she would struggle.

Nonetheless, the fundamental role of the journalist has not changed.  According to the Society for Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics, the task of the journalist is to “seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently and be accountable and transparent” (2014).  Journalist Kathy Cowan notes that “The role of telling stories remains the same. Journalism is still about observing, interpreting and informing” (2012).  However, these tasks have changed with new technology.

“Emily Bell, director of the Tow Centre for Digital Journalism at Columbia University and former editor of” credits the coverage of 911 as the catalyst that changed how news is reported.  “Linear TV was not enough”, people went online to share what they knew on message boards and chat forums (Krotoski, 2011). Today, “Journalists are now increasingly involved with their audience. The web and its less passive nature has meant that journalists now have to engage with their readers, and they have to listen” (Cowan, 2012).

In addition, the media audience demands fast and immediate news, so journalists often rely on new technology such as Facebook and Twitter to gather information from members of the public who willingly share their experiences with others. These firsthand witness accounts “offer analytical perspectives from the ground faster than print or television can provide” (Krotoski, 2011).

Sources_photo_Danielle_Pope_original_originalExtensive contacts and sources are key to credible story telling.  Consequently, journalists must have sufficient contacts to keep them informed.  In this regard, “Social media  broadens the average journalist’s pool of contacts and connections, putting them in touch with people and organisations they might never have known about through traditional research sources” (DiGiorgio, 2010).

Equipped with a smart phone, a journalist can produce a news story.  A journalist can take a picture, record video and audio clips, facilitate live remote reporting via Skype, write a story and meet the newsroom’s deadline all with a smart phone .  Therefore, she is always prepared to capture a story as it happens (Belmaker, 2014).

New technology has made the journalist’s job easier in some regards due to the ready source of information and contacts, and the versatility of the smart phone.  However, the veracity of what is on social media needs to be established and journalists should still verify the credibility of their sources.


Belmaker, G.  (2014, November 25).  5 ways journalists can use smart phones for reporting.  Retrieved from

Cowan, K.  (2012, August 13).  How has the digital era changed journalism?  Retrieved from

DiGiorgio, G.  (2010, November 18).  Social media: a journalist’s friend or foe? Retrieved from

Krotoski, J. (2011 February 20). What effects has the internet had on journalism? Retrieved from

Society for Professional Journalists.  (2014, September 6)  SPJ Code of Ethics, retrieved from

How technology has changed journalism

“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”  This was the familiar marketing spiel of the iconic little boy, with cap on head and suspenders, selling newspapers, hot off the press in old school movies. newspaper_boy1 In days of old, the reporter with a notepad, pencil or pen went in search of the story and wrote it all on a typewriter.  Then, with the invention of the radio at the start of the twentieth century and television in the 1950’s, journalism went from exclusively print to broadcast too, and despite rumors of the demise of the newspaper, all three co-existed and found their respective niches.   However, technology has changed journalism significantly in the 21st century.


Convergence Journalism

Firstly people no longer go in search of the news, they expect the news to come to them. “Remember those days… [when] the news cycle in the publishing game was 24 hours… now the news is constant, available anywhere at any time. All the time” on our laptops, tablets, smartphones and watches (Charalambous, 2013).

The accessibility of news is largely due to “Social media … [which] has become influential as a communication and news-breaking tool. In June 2009, the U.S. State Department asked Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance on the service because it was being used by protesters angered by the results of Iran’s disputed presidential election” (Alejandro, 2010).

Technology has also resulted in the rise of the citizen journalist. “When users post news and videos to social media sites, other users interact (both positively and negatively) to the information being shared” (DeMers, 2013).  As a result, traditional journalists, who also produce stories for online, must ensure the accuracy of their articles, in an effort to save the credibility and integrity of the traditional news agencies.

In addition, “at the start of 2015, 39 of the top 50 digital news websites have more traffic to their sites and associated applications coming from mobile devices than from desktop computers” (Mitchell, 2015).  People access news on the go.  I, like many others, access my Twitter account on my smart phone intermittently throughout the day to keep abreast with local and international news.  While Twitter is my platform of choice for news, “2014 research revealed that nearly half of Web-using adults report getting news about politics and government on Facebook” (Mitchell, 2015).

Media consumers, young people especially, are still interested in the news, maybe even more so since they can readily access it on multiple devices.  However, audiences today, unlike audiences of the twentieth century, no longer want to be just recipients of news but participants in the storytelling. They want to comment on and share what they see, read, watch and hear.  Journalism has changed forever.


Alejandro, J.  (2010).  Journalism in the age of social media.  Retrieved from

Charalambous, S. (2013, October 2).  5 ways tech is changing the face of journalism (but not the internal organs).  Retrieved from

DeMers, J.  (2013, May 8).  How social media is supporting a fundamental shift in journalism.  Retrieved from

Mitchell, A.  (2015, April, 29).  State of the news media 2015.  Retrieved from