The journalism industry is in a state of change, and
media organizations are much different than they were just 10 years ago. From
the rise of new media techniques to the ever-increasing number of outlets
creating content, there are countless ways that media companies, news rooms,
and journalists have been forced to change in respect to how they do their
work. One interesting, and often forgotten, aspect of these transformations is
how journalism education is responding to the change. High school and
collegiate journalism programs are having to be extremely nimble in their
methods in order to train their students for the future of the business. Due
in-part to these changes in the industry, many collegiate journalism programs
are seeing declines in interest and are struggling to boost enrollment. If they
want to remain relevant as we move into the future of communications, high
school and collegiate journalism programs must find ways to change current
their approach to journalism education.

For most of the past century the job of a journalist
was to gather and weight the value of facts, form them into a truthful story
and send the story to as many people as possible via newspaper, and later,
radio and television. These days, information is in abundance, cellphones act
as perpetually current edition of every newspaper in the world, camera phones
have turned virtually everyone into a spot-news photographer, huge stories
break on Facebook—sometimes even on Facebook Live.

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News can now be tailored to niche markets and even
individuals. Large media companies are gradually becoming less influential, and
therefore the entire landscape is in a state of limbo. Journalism education,
just like the rest of the media industry, is struggling to find the most
effective way to train the journalists of the future. That is extremely
difficult considering that nobody knows exactly what journalism will look like
in 5, 10, or especially 20 years. High school and collegiate journalism
curriculums simply can’t react to such fundamental changes in the journalism

One high school teacher in Indianapolis is changing
the way she teaches her students, and says that she is doing so largely because
her students have lost interest. April Moss has been teaching journalism at
Pike High School, a school with urban demographics on the northwest side of
Indianapolis, for almost 20 years. Moss cautions that the situation regarding
journalism education at her high school may be different than others in more
affluent areas of the city and state. Moss points out that most schools with
higher incomes seem to be thriving more than Pike High School in the world of
high school journalism. However, according to Moss, regardless of which high
school we consider, “at present, there is a downward trend as to how students
receive 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 between
reliable and unreliable news sources,”.

In a survey she conducted in her classroom at the beginning
of the Fall 2016 semester, Moss asked her “Intro to Journalism” students which
outlets they used the most to get their news. On that day, there were 20
students in the class, and according to Moss, only 2 students said that they
received 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 for
news. “The sample size is small, but based off of observations, most of my 120
seniors from my journalism and English courses cannot describe or discuss basic
news,” Moss said. According to Moss many of her students, however, do enjoy
watching short news clips on social media and are interested in learning how to
produce similar content.

“Many schools have had to begin to cater to this
trend by doing more interactive and visual reporting. Those who have support
from their administrators are beginning to use Twitter and other social media
outlets to produce scholastic journalism. Right now, I am in the middle of a
project where all three of our platforms high school yearbook, newspaper, and CCTV
station converge to bring news to students. Other schools with smaller staffs
have also done this around the state of Indiana. I am modeling what we are
doing after a few other schools, namely: Lake Central, Center Grove and
Greenwood,” Moss said. “It means really working together to try to buck the trend
of students not being aware of currents events—a lot of the time there is even important
news occurring at their own school.”


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