The journalism industry is in a state of change, andmedia organizations are much different than they were just 10 years ago. Fromthe rise of new media techniques to the ever-increasing number of outletscreating content, there are countless ways that media companies, news rooms,and journalists have been forced to change in respect to how they do theirwork. One interesting, and often forgotten, aspect of these transformations ishow journalism education is responding to the change. High school andcollegiate journalism programs are having to be extremely nimble in theirmethods in order to train their students for the future of the business.
Duein-part to these changes in the industry, many collegiate journalism programsare seeing declines in interest and are struggling to boost enrollment. If theywant to remain relevant as we move into the future of communications, highschool and collegiate journalism programs must find ways to change currenttheir approach to journalism education.For most of the past century the job of a journalistwas to gather and weight the value of facts, form them into a truthful storyand send the story to as many people as possible via newspaper, and later,radio and television. These days, information is in abundance, cellphones actas perpetually current edition of every newspaper in the world, camera phoneshave turned virtually everyone into a spot-news photographer, huge storiesbreak on Facebook—sometimes even on Facebook Live.News can now be tailored to niche markets and evenindividuals. Large media companies are gradually becoming less influential, andtherefore the entire landscape is in a state of limbo.
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Journalism education,just like the rest of the media industry, is struggling to find the mosteffective way to train the journalists of the future. That is extremelydifficult considering that nobody knows exactly what journalism will look likein 5, 10, or especially 20 years. High school and collegiate journalismcurriculums simply can’t react to such fundamental changes in the journalismindustry.One high school teacher in Indianapolis is changingthe way she teaches her students, and says that she is doing so largely becauseher students have lost interest. April Moss has been teaching journalism atPike High School, a school with urban demographics on the northwest side ofIndianapolis, for almost 20 years. Moss cautions that the situation regardingjournalism education at her high school may be different than others in moreaffluent areas of the city and state. Moss points out that most schools withhigher incomes seem to be thriving more than Pike High School in the world ofhigh school journalism. However, according to Moss, regardless of which highschool we consider, “at present, there is a downward trend as to how studentsreceive and perceive news, meaning that I have seen a decline in media literacy,and I have noticed my students are more and more unable to distinguish betweenreliable and unreliable news sources,”.
In a survey she conducted in her classroom at the beginningof the Fall 2016 semester, Moss asked her “Intro to Journalism” students whichoutlets they used the most to get their news. On that day, there were 20students in the class, and according to Moss, only 2 students said that theyreceived their news from a legacy news source like CNN or The New York Times.The other 18 students indicated that they either do not follow news at all,that they only get it from word of mouth, or that they rely on social media fornews.
“The sample size is small, but based off of observations, most of my 120seniors from my journalism and English courses cannot describe or discuss basicnews,” Moss said. According to Moss many of her students, however, do enjoywatching short news clips on social media and are interested in learning how toproduce similar content. “Many schools have had to begin to cater to thistrend by doing more interactive and visual reporting. Those who have supportfrom their administrators are beginning to use Twitter and other social mediaoutlets to produce scholastic journalism. Right now, I am in the middle of aproject where all three of our platforms high school yearbook, newspaper, and CCTVstation converge to bring news to students. Other schools with smaller staffshave also done this around the state of Indiana.
I am modeling what we aredoing after a few other schools, namely: Lake Central, Center Grove andGreenwood,” Moss said. “It means really working together to try to buck the trendof students not being aware of currents events—a lot of the time there is even importantnews occurring at their own school.”