The Town Hall Meeting’s panel discussion began with two questions from the moderator.
1) What does it mean to be a professional journalist and who will be the professional journalists in the future.
For the most part, the panel agreed that who a professional journaist is will expand as more individuals will be working as freelancers or on contract due to the downsizing of media organizations. We discussed the importance of integrity, accuracy and good storytelling skills regardless of whether one is working for a media organization or mataining a professional blog. I noted that this has been an issue for big events (like the Super Bowl) for several years, as often bloggers and online sites are applying for and receiving press passes to cover events. [For the 2009 Super Bowl in Tampa, 4,500 press credentials were issued.]
2) Is the future of journalism digital? What digital skills do students need to have when they are graduating and how can they gain those skills?
Yes to the question about the future of journalism being digital, we all said. In starting that discussion, Mindy McAdams said that not only is the future of journalism digital but the present is, too.
How can students gain those skills?
- Take courses that incude those skills.
- Read a book on a software program.
- Utilize online training resources. Mindy recommended that students give up one hour of watching a rerun of “Lost” and spend that hour learning a new software application. I suggested utilizing lynda.com and Poynter’s NewsU for online training.
- Get an internship that will include multimedia learning.
- Shift from being a media consumer to thinking like a media producer in considering potential uses of cell phones and laptops for content delivery — and what the business models could be.
Students were ready with questions for the panel when that time arrived and that led to some interesting discussion about highlights from our media experiences and discussion about whether journalists and media outlets really can be (or should be) unbiased.
But what was missing from the evening was the discussion about the curriculum. We were asked by a student about the laptop requirement, but that was the only specific curriculum change question. And we (members of the panel) didn’t insert into the discussion specifics about the Journalism Department’s curriculum changes.