Journalism schools should emphasize coding and practical teaching, experts say

The Nieman Journalism Lab has kicked off the new school year in the United States with a series of thought-provoking articles by academics and professionals on how journalism schools can improve their mission of molding future journalists, advice that included learning by doing and embracing coding. In the latest installment of the ongoing series, Steve Buttry, the digital transformation editor at Digital First Media and the Journal Register Co., on Sept. 19 asked why university student-run media do not embrace the digital first and print last approach considering students themselves stay informed via digital technology and not legacy media. Although Buttry pointed to examples like Texas Christian University’s online news site TCU360 as a step towards a digital first strategy, he said student media outlets face a choice: “Slide into irrelevancy even faster than professional media that fail to adapt, or race into the digital future and help show them the way.” Jeff Jarvis, the associate professor and director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, advocated a variety of teaching tools and methods to help students who have varying degrees of digital skills and interest. He also embraced the “teaching hospital” concept, and the need to reinforce the study of journalism, including encouraging students to “embrace disruption and find opportunity in it.” University of Florida instructor Mindy McAdams urged journalism educators to instill in their students the notion that learning never ends, and that includes overcoming being intimidated by coding. Multimedia skills and coding are what CNN is looking for in new hires, regardless of whether the applicant comes from a journalism school, said Meredith Artley in her Nieman article. But the vice president and managing editor of CNN Digital said that in addition to the proper skill set, CNN is looking for people who are inquisitive and may even specialize in topics like religion, health, science or education.