Media | News | Journalism

Every journalist a Superman

The Journalist’ Backpack

How digital savvy and technical should a journalist be? Writing for the web? A bit of blogging? Or master SEO, CSS and CMS? Well, actually… all of those (and some other stuff) would come in handy.

We went through almost a hundred job descriptions – posted online in June and July 2013 – on a Dutch media recruitment site, jobs posted on 60 media sites and places offered on the largest media internships site (see previous posting). In almost all of them digital qualifications were asked. These can be divided in five groups.

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Social Media

Journalists without experience or knowledge about social media will have a hard time when they apply for a job. In descriptions Twitter, Facebook, Hyves (Dutch social network), Linkedin and Google+ are often mentioned. Image sharing social media like Instagram and Pinterest were also included in some descriptions. Working with blogs is also a popular qualification; usually experience with Wordpress is asked for but some ads also asked for Tumblr and Typo3.

Websites

Related to blogging and tweaking blogs is the art of website maintenance (html) and optimization, journalists with knowledge of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are much in demand. Apart from that, we found media asking for experience with Google Analytics, CMS, CSS and mobile apps.

Video & images

Aspiring journalists should know how to upload a movie to a channel on YouTube or Vimeo, or put it on Vine. We found media asking for video-editing skills; knowledge of software like Final Cut Pro and Premiere was asked for. Specific tasks were making screencasts and unbox-videos. Apart from video-editing, there also was demand for journalists who could work with image-editing software Photoshop.

Data-journalism

Advanced skills in data-journalism were asked in some ads, In particular data-analysis, data-cleaning and data-scraping. Making infographics, (interactive) animations, maps, tables is also demanded; software like Tableau, Flash and Querytree was mentioned.

Design

Publishing on different platforms increasingly means publishing an iPad version; this is why making iPad-magazines and design was specifically mentioned in some cases, with a reference to software like Illustrator, Indesign, Creative Suite, InCopy and Woodwing (an iPad-magazine production environment). Making newsletters was also found quite frequently. 

Searching for Superman

Not all qualifications can be found in all descriptions of course. But every job description mentions at least some of them while others ask for quite a lot. 

An important question is what this means for journalism education and training. This should go beyond basic knowledge (updating your Facebook 40 times a day is not “knowledge of social media”). It should also include specialization opportunities and most important: digital skills should be integrated into the program – not in specific ‘digital’ courses.

The research will be presented at The Future of Journalism Conference (Cardiff University) on September 13-14.