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New Research Shows Wide Gap Between Professionals and Educators on Core Journalism Skills

Digital Skills Less Important to Professionals than to Educators, New Poynter Survey Shows

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., April 9, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New research released today from The Poynter Institute, the leading educator of journalists worldwide, shows a wide divergence between professionals and educators in their thinking on the importance of core journalism skills.

The Poynter Institute Logo

Poynter's "Core Skills for the Future of Journalism" report suggests that educators are farther along than professional journalists in identifying the importance of multimedia skills and digital tools in today's highly visual, multiplatform media landscape. 

More than 2,900 educators, students, media professionals and independent journalists responded to the survey, which asked them the importance of 37 different skills and attributes for a "beginning journalist as he/she looks toward his/her career in the digital/mobile age."

"The challenges facing newsrooms in a fractured media landscape continue to be of great importance to Poynter as it finds ways to continue its unique role working with both the media industry and the academy," said Tim Franklin, president of The Poynter Institute.

Professionals at media organizations rated the importance of all of the multimedia skills much lower than did educators, students and even independent or freelance journalists. Some examples:

  • 45 percent of professionals thought it was important to very important that a journalist have the ability to shoot and edit video. However, three-fourths of educators in the survey thought video skills were important to very important.
  • 79 percent of educators said that photography skills -- essential skills since most reporters today are equipped with smartphones or cameras -- were important to very important. Fifty-three percent of professionals responded that the ability to shoot and edit photographs was important to very important.

The gap between professionals and professions is evident in other areas:

  • Having knowledge of the media business: 61 percent of educators vs. 38 percent of professionals
  • Having knowledge of other cultures: 76 percent of educators vs. 52 percent of professionals
  • Mastering various forms of journalistic writing: 84 percent of educators vs. 68 percent of professionals (managers were slightly higher at 70 percent)

Respondents in both groups attached similar levels of importance to such skills as storytelling, writing in a fluent style, using correct grammar and understanding audience expectations and needs.

"It appears that educators have listened to the debate about the need to change, at least enough to acknowledge the importance of new skills," said Howard Finberg, co-author of the report and director of business development at The Poynter Institute. "But the question remains: What are professionals hearing about the importance of new skills and how they fit within organizations as they make the transition to digital?"

Additional results and analysis of this survey and other research on journalism education is available in a new Poynter News University report.  It can be downloaded from here:

On Thursday, April 10, at 2 p.m. ET, co-authors Howard Finberg and Lauren Klinger will discuss the findings in a free Webinar on Poynter NewsU, which was created by a grant from the Knight Foundation.

About The Poynter Institute

The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is an international leader in journalism education, and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media and 21st century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Fla., and at conferences and organizational sites around the world. Its e-learning division, News University,, offers the world's largest online journalism curriculum, with more than 400 interactive courses and 300,000 students. The Institute's website,, produces 24-hour coverage of news about media, ethics, technology, the business of news and the trends that currently define and redefine journalism news reporting. The world's top journalists and media innovators come to Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians and broadcast producers, and to build public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and protected discourse that serves democracy and the public good.

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Howard Finberg, Director of Business Development
[email protected]

SOURCE The Poynter Institute

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