online journalism · socialmedia · teaching · twitter

The case for incorporating social networking skills in journalism education

I am hoping to present a paper at the World Journalism Education Congress in South Africa next year and thought I would share my initial thoughts with you.

Below is an initial draft of the abstract, let me know your thoughts.

The traditional role of a journalist was to gather information, shape it into a story and then transmit it as accurately and quickly as possible to an audience via a mass medium. Today, as the mass media is declining in influence, the digital media is providing infinite opportunities for non-journalists to break news. Journalism education, like industry, is struggling to adapt to these structural changes, relying increasingly on expanding technology training. This paper will argue that what is needed is a realignment of journalism education from technology training to online social training. Within an online social training model, it will be argued that the skill of using social networking sites like Twitter to build and engage readership is as important as the traditional news gathering skills. Young journalists will need to understand the nuances and social protocols of these social networking sites to develop networks and broaden the reach of their stories. It will be argued that if journalism in the online medium is to be refocused from a lecture to a conversation, then the skill of engaging the public through networking tools will be a primary one for journalists. Further, traditional journalism defines fact as information from official sources. But this model of news is in flux as social media technologies such as Twitter facilitate the instant, dissemination of fragments of information from a variety of official and unofficial sources. Within this context, an understanding and an ability to help the public negotiate the flow of this information and facilitate the collection and transmission of news is vital for journalists of the future.

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