The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

  • Journalism

    10 basics today’s journalists need

    July 31, 2015, 6 a.m., Posted by Paige Levin

    One week into college, my journalism professor gave a lecture on what journalists need to know—except he didn’t really explain anything. He just complained about the fact that journalists were expected to know too much.

    I panicked.

    That week, I changed my major three times, looking for something that encompassed every skill needed in the media industry. I’ll save prospective students the trouble: It doesn’t exist.

    That’s because the industry changes too quickly for any curriculum to keep up. I realized that I needed to figure it out for myself.

    As a journalism student, I’ve been searching for a definitive answer for the past three years. I’ve consulted media professionals to gather the building blocks of a journalism career in the digital age. I’m talking about more than just bread-and-butter reporting. One conclusion surprised me: We don’t need to be well versed in every single app and every line of code. But we do need to understand the bigger picture.

    Here’s what I believe today’s journalism students need to know (in no particular order):

    1. Learn basic coding: A little code goes a long way. In a phone interview, Ted Spiker, the journalism department chair at the University of Florida where I am a student, said it is debatable if full-blown coding is for everyone, but I think it brings considerable advantages. If you understand what’s under the hood of technology, you can be more effective and efficient. Knight Foundation’s Eric Newton said, “Basic coding is the grammar of the 21st century.” Those fundamentals include some ability to hack your way through basic HTML, to understand embed codes and to be able to navigate a content-management system. Start here.

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    ‘Knight Cities’ podcast: Miami Science Barge, a showcase for environmental education

    July 30, 2015, 1:46 p.m., Posted by Carol Coletta

    Can an old barge sitting in Biscayne Bay help the city of Miami come face to face with the challenge of climate change?

    Knight Cities podcast

    That’s the intent of the Miami Science Barge, a creation of CappSci and one of 32 winners of the Knight Cities Challenge in its first year.

    Alissa Farina is an innovation associate at CappSci, a foundation that applies “science and engineering to real-world problems, and one of the organizers of the Miami Science Barge. Here are five things you should know about the project:

    1.     The Miami Science Barge will be a floating urban ecological laboratory and public environmental education center on Biscayne Bay at Museum Park in downtown Miami.

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    Urban Land Institute initiative  to help build better communities

    July 30, 2015, 1:24 p.m., Posted by Patrick L. Phillips

    Photo: Cadillac Square in Detroit. Credit: Michigan Municipal League on

    Patrick L. Phillips is the global chief executive officer of the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit education and research institute that provides leadership in the responsible use of land and in sustaining and creating thriving communities worldwide. Downtown Detroit photo courtesy Urban Land Institute.

    Communities across the nation are moving away from the tendency to design and build for cars (so 20th century) to an approach that puts the needs and desires of people first. At the Urban Land Institute, we’re excited about the notion that as cities become more livable, they are more resilient to economic cycles and even natural disasters. The social cohesion that comes with a high quality of life is a powerful catalyst for the investment needed to grow during good times and recover during the bad ones.  

    This community-building trend holds much promise, provided that what is being done to enhance livability is available to all residents. Recent research from the Urban Land Institute suggests, however, that this is not the case. “America in 2015,” released in May, finds that many Americans face significant community design-related barriers to enjoying a healthy, high quality of life. A large number of people, particularly minorities and millennials, report living in areas that lack easy access to safe places for outdoor physical activity, and active transportation systems such as bike lanes, and healthy food options.   

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