By Gbola Adiamoh
The work terrain is changing. As this is true for virtually every field of human endeavour, it is truer for journalism professionals. In times past, the journalist only had to be trained in the art of writing. She would pick the remaining skills on the job. She could sit on stories that she did not feel are so important for public consumption. In fact, she was the gateway to people’s awareness of the society in which they live.
Not any longer. The rise of the new media, and capacities to break news instantly has challenged the journalist to do more than waiting for tomorrow’s papers to break the news. New media can now use different capabilities to engage the audience – both text and graphics. The journalist of tomorrow need to be dexterous in these skills. Also, the fact that the world in which we live now has become more complex and there is the need for mastery of different fields, it is no longer enough that the journalist of tomorrow is only trained in wordsmithing.
In fact, the journalist of the future must know something about everything and everything about something. This puts obvious tasks on different actors in the society: the aspiring journalist, the journalism teacher, the school and institutites that train journalists, the media for whom the journalists work, the union of journalists and the government. In short, everyone who is in a little or grand way associated with journalism must now pay attention to the skilling and reskilling of journalists.
For the journalism schools, it is important that journalism students are exposed to reporting in different beats early in their studies so that they can learn the registers of the field. It does not behove a journalist reporting economic matters not to be able to analyse a country’s budget and report it using the appropriate language and registers. In order to be able to do this, journalism students might benefit from auditing courses in economics and finance. The journalism curriculum should allow for this.
The media for which journalists work for should understand the prupose for which they conduct the journalism business. I contend that traditional newspapers can no longer break news, therefore it might need to skill its workforce in more of interpretive journalism. With such skills, the newspaper journalist of the future will have appropriate skills to still be relevant in the face of new media.
Journalist unions have a role to play in ensuring the welfare of its members. However, unskilled workers can’t complain of a low welfare package. This is why it is necessary that it encourages and provides opportunities for its members to upgrade their skills. Boot camps and online courses, workshops and seminars are such avenues that they could easily apply.
For the journalist of the future, passion is more important than any other thing. A passionate journalist will be more open to learning new ideas and skills that will ensure that they can confidently compete in the workplace of the future.