Present and Future Journalism SkillsIn The State of the News Media 2008, the fifth annual report published by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, there is a summary of the findings of a survey concerning the shifts in relative importance of various journalism skills (25 skills in all). The survey was conducted last year by Shahira Fahmy, an assistant professor of journalism at Southern Illinois University.1
Start with traditional journalism skills. The top eight in terms of current importance (2007) are:
#1 Ability to learn
In terms of future importance (2012), only six of the above skills are still in the top eight, and rankings have changed:
#1 Ability to learn
#4 Reporting (tied with Photography [#10 in 2007])
Writing has dropped to #11, and Spelling to #13.
The ranking of digital journalism skills in terms of current importance (2007) is:
#9 Shooting photos
#13 Imaging production
#16 Multimedia delivery
#21 Multimedia editing/production
#21 Capturing audio
#23 Shooting video
#24 Animation & Flash
In terms of future importance (2012), Shooting video is expected to rank second only to Shooting photos. Indeed, the emphasis on photos and video is expected to make Imaging production and Graphics relatively less important than today. Otherwise, the rankings of digital journalism skills relative to each other are not expected to change much over the next five years. However, relative to traditional skills, all multimedia skils are expected to increase in importance.
The report also shows expected shifts in the importance of Web-coding skills. Aside from accessibility #11 in 2007 and expected to be #9 in 2012 these coding skills are generally viewed as having secondary and declining importance for journalists (though, obviously, media technical staff will need to be adept at Web coding).
It is important to note that Fahmy's survey does not deal with quality issues, i.e., the effectiveness with which journalists' skills are deployed to deliver an accurate, credible and useful news product.
1 Shahira Fahmy's study, "Current Trends in Online News Operations and Importance of Present and Future Journalism Skills," is forthcoming in Newspaper Research Journal.