New Knight Report: Digital Training Comes of Age for Journalists

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Digital Training Comes of Age (PDF) by Eric Newton and Michele McLellan

MIAMI, FLA. -- (Aug. 9, 2012) -- Demand for digital training is soaring among journalists who want to stay current, and journalists are increasingly willing to have that training online, according to a new report by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

“Digital Training Comes of Age” explores best practices and impact of Knight-supported fellowship and training programs as they adapt to the digital environment. It includes a survey of 660 journalists trained in Knight-supported training programs.

“We found that journalists who are trying to adapt are hungrier than ever for training, especially new digital skills. But most say their news organizations are still not willing to provide it even though the transformative impact of training is clear,” said Michele McLellan, a Knight Foundation consultant who co-authored the report with Eric Newton, Knight’s senior adviser to the president.

“It’s a do-over moment for newsroom training,” said Newton. “Let’s hope this time we get it right.”

Among key findings:

• Professional development has impact. It helped journalists learn the multimedia skills needed to create new, engaging story forms. It provided the entrepreneurial skills needed to start new local news ventures. It taught university professors the digital fluency needed to teach the latest best practices. Training helped journalists investigate wrongdoing and prompt policy change.

• A growing demand for training as journalists adapt to the 21st century’s evolving media ecosystems. Journalists want more training in digital tools such as multimedia, data analysis and technology. Most give their news organizations low marks for providing training opportunities.

• Digital classes are gaining popularity as a cost-effective way to reach more trainees. A third of U.S. journalists and eight in 10 international journalists say the online classes they took were as good as, or better than, conventional training in the classroom.

• Training organizations are adapting to the digital age. They are providing more training online and rethinking how their programs can foster the transformation of journalism.

Knight Foundation has invested more than $150 million in journalism education and training projects during in the past 10 years. Knight grantees, including two dozen Knight Chairs at leading universities, each year teach and train thousands of journalists of all ages.

Recent alumni from the following endowed programs were included in this year’s survey: the Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford University, the Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowships at the University of Michigan, the Knight-Bagehot Fellowships in Economic and Business Journalism at Columbia University, and the Knight Science Journalism Fellowships at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Also included were active alumni from these grant-funded programs: Knight International Journalism Fellowships, run by the International Center for Journalists; the Knight Latin American Nieman Fellowships at Harvard; the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas, and the Knight Digital Media Centers at the University of Southern California and the University of California, Berkeley.

The report concludes that the digital age represents a fresh start for the news industry, which has historically lagged in providing professional development to its employees. In the past, the cost of quality training represented an obstacle that news executives did not overcome. Now, many types of training can be provided online at a lower cost and at more convenience to employees.

“The good news is that the reset button has never been easier to hit, nor has it ever been more powerful. The digital age has made it simpler than ever for modern day journalists to teach their peers. By putting the sum total of human knowledge at the tips of our fingers, the Internet has opened up better ways of sharing and using that knowledge. There’s more to learn, but teaching is easier,” the report says.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.

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Contact:

Andrew Sherry, Vice President/Communications, (305) 908-2677, media@knightfoundation.org

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.