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Advanced Digital Skills for Journalists: Digital World Study

digital skills for journalists

The digital direction of which our world is moving towards makes some professions fall into uncertainty and excitement, while others cease to exist. As for journalists, digitalized era creates endless possibilities, but in order to take on the presented opportunities, classic skills and traits are no longer enough. New digital skills and knowledge are needed.

A comprehensive The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms study by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and Georgetown University’s Communication, Culture & Technology (CCT) introduced how journalists around the world are keeping pace with the digital revolution. While the study was conducted in 2017, the results are relevant up to this date.

First of all, the study revealed that while journalists are using digital skills to produce news stories on a daily basis, the range of their skills is limited. Most journalists regularly use only a narrow range of digital skills, while less than one-third are using advanced, third-tier, digital skills.

TABLE 1: Digital Media Skills Used Regularly in the Newsroom. ICFJ Survey: The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms, 2017.

The reasons for Low Digital Skills

There are several reasons for such distributions of skills. One of which is the digital experience and skills the journalists bring to their newsrooms when hired. More than half of journalists worldwide had no experience in digital media when hired. Those who were hired with digital experience, had only basic skills, such as publishing across platforms, compared to advanced skills, such as creating data visualizations. In the end, less than half of the media professionals in new roles bring more advanced digital skills when hired.

The second reason was that while newsroom leaders had core digital skills, a relative few have advanced digital experience. In addition, only 59% of leaders had more core digital experience than those they oversee. These skills include publishing across platforms, using mobile tech and video/audio production. Moreover, 64% of newsroom managers said that they were hired with experience in digital media, but only half or fewer of journalists admitted that they really didn’t.

The last reason impacting low digital media skills is the workflow itself. Routinely, journalists use only a limited set of skills to produce news stories.

Are journalists receiving on-the-job training?

We already established many professions must adapt to a continuously evolving work environment, learning digital skills and experience. Moreover, according to the study, there’s a great need for digital training. Unfortunately, while there’s an agreement among newsrooms that the training is important, there is still disunity in deciding which skills to focus on. This leads to failing to meet all the demands of contemporary professional needs. On the other hand, there are cases, where the availability of training outpaces demand. This showcases that in some cases, the problem lies in the unmotivated staff workers, rather than the newsroom leaders.

TABLE 2: Journalists’ Demand for Training and Newsroom Availability. ICFJ Survey: The State of Technology in Global Newsrooms, 2017.

Learning by Yourself

It’s only natural that the newsrooms can’t satisfy all the needs of journalists. So what can they do? Well, it depends on the personal goals of the person. Those having hopes of achieving success in their career needs to push forward, both in skills and merit. The only way to do so is to learn the digital skills on your own and find ways how to implement it.

Luckily there are so many private classes, digital courses and even digital courses with free certifications that can help you meet your goals. The core idea is to find new opportunities using advanced digital skills and knowledge that will lead to a higher quality of the content, greater engagement, stronger digital influence, and overall better results.

The world is moving forward, will you move with it?

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