How skills rate in television newsrooms: comparing attitudes between working journalists and broadcast journalism graduands
Kay Nankervis
Charles Sturt University

This paper reports on the next stage in an ongoing study of skill needs in metropolitan television newsrooms. It focuses on attitudes to technology skills by comparing a sample of television journalists at major Australian networks with a cohort of final year broadcast journalism students. Each group was asked to rank in order of importance six skills or traits – five that had been identified in previous research as important to the hiring decisions of senior news managers along with the skill trait of “technological fluency”. Both groups – journalists and students – ranked ‘technological fluency” (on mean averages) last behind story generation, news sense & passion for news, television writing, good general knowledge and voice & on camera presentation. They were also asked, in a separate question, to evaluate the importance of more than 40 different skills and traits to television – including four skills involving technological proficiency – by allocating a score of 1 to 5 to each skill on the list. Significantly, out of more than 40 possible choices, both groups independently gave the highest mean average score for importance to “Ability to work well under deadline pressure”. Both groups ranked the four technology skills in the bottom half of the 40-plus skills list, mostly in the bottom quarter. The data suggests that traditional “pre-mouse” skills such as investigation, information gathering, writing and presentation must continue to be covered thoroughly by journalism education even as it prepares students for rapidly changing delivery systems and leaner newsroom structures.

Teaching new dogs old tricks.
Susan Hetherington
Queensland University of Technology

The journalism revolution is upon us. In a world where we are constantly being told that everyone can be a publisher and challenges are emerging from bloggers, Twitterers and podcasters, journalism educators are inevitably reassessing what skills we now need to teach to keep our graduates ahead of the game. QUT this year tackled that question head-on as a curriculum review and program restructure resulted in a greater emphasis on online journalism.
The author spent a week in the online newsrooms of each of two of the major players – ABC online news and thecouriermail.com to watch, listen and interview some of the key players. This, in addition to interviews with industry leaders from Fairfax and news.com, lead to the conclusion that while there are some new skills involved in new media much of what the industry is demanding is in fact good old fashioned journalism. Themes of good spelling, grammar, accuracy and writing skills and a nose for news recurred when industry players were asked what it was that they would like to see in new graduates. While speed was cited as one of the big attributes needed in online journalism, the conclusion of many of the players was that the skills of a good down-table sub or a journalist working for wire service were not unlike those most used in online newsrooms.

Wiki Works: Developing new modes of delivery for journalism students
Alexandra Wake
RMIT University

There has been an increasing amount of Australian research on Generation Y students and their use of new technologies, specifically those described as Web 2.0 technologies. However there has been little written about the sub-set of tech-savvy journalism students in Australian universities. Many journalism educators have been keen to embrace the technology bandwagon, but ongoing research led by Kennedy at Melbourne University has found that first year university students at three Australian universities are “nowhere near as frequent users of new technologies as some commentators have been suggesting … New technologies, such as Blogs and Wikis that allow students to collaborate and to produce and publish material online are used by a relatively small proportion of students.” It is also important to note not all first university students are “into” the net. The Melbourne University study found that “The majority of first year students in 2006 had never read a blog (55%) let alone created one of their own.” Quinn and Bethell (2006) found the media students at Deakin University were failing to buy or read newspapers. In a survey of their media classes the authors found that almost four in five Deakin University students spent less than three hours a week of their total time online, and within that time was their time consuming online news. In fact their survey found that Gen Y students were not turning to the internet for their news, despite the frequency of broadband access. The RMIT University cohort differs substantially to that of Deakin. It is a city-based university with students requiring an extremely high entry-level score. By surveying RMIT journalism students about their use of web technologies, their news habits and their preference in learning styles, it may be possible to provide more technically directed educational resources and thereby better prepare them for a workforce that is increasingly pod-casting, SMSing, and blogging journalism. This paper will examine the implication of Wiki mode delivery and its wider implications for currrent trends in journalism education.

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