Academic journal article Teaching Journalism & Mass Communication

Teaching "Journalism as Process": A Proposed Paradigm for J-School Curricula in the Digital Age

Academic journal article Teaching Journalism & Mass Communication

Teaching "Journalism as Process": A Proposed Paradigm for J-School Curricula in the Digital Age

Article excerpt

An in-depth audience study in Madison, Wisconsin, revealed new conceptions of "news" that warrant a reconceptualization of journalism schools' curricula. Using an experiential-learning model, this essay explores how the digital-era "journalism-as-process" considerations on the part of news audiences might be incorporated into journalism courses. The findings suggest that journalism educators must reformulate traditional news-product classroom work into something more interactive, amorphous, and process-oriented. In addition, teachers should begin helping students to "own" conversations generated in cyberspace.

Keywords: audience, citizens, classroom, experiential learning, interviews, journalism, journalism schools, news

In a 2009 blog post JeffJarvis of Buzzmachine proposed that the news story was moving away from the mass consideration of the article as a discrete, finite product and had assumed the characteristics of a process of production. He positioned the article in the center of a series of productive actions-from idea conception to post-publication modification. Neither ownership nor assigned agency could be attached to any of the moving parts. It was not a new idea, certainly, but Jarvis was the first to visually depict and articulate a specific form for new-age news. The Huffington Post reprinted that post, called "journalism as process," and the notion that news production must be reconceptualized for the digital age became intellectual fodder for journalistic and academic conferences (Staff, 2009). In much of the literature on journalism education, this teaching of digital understandings-often talked about as "convergence"-has been the desire for almost a decade, but its implementation in colleges and universities has been cautious, informal, and spotty (Longinow, 2011; Lowrey, Daniels, & Becker, 2005; Sarachan, 2011; Ying, 2010). In part this has to do with a lack of specificity on the part of professionals for their would-be employees (Adams, 2008) and in part with inertia, doubts, and resistance in journalism programs to unchartered territory and massive transformation (Longinow, 2011).

This article reports the results of a study investigating how "journalism as process" has filtered down to those who consume news so that journalism educators might employ more innovative techniques to better engage the interactive audience member. An understanding of how such news conceptions are changing must inform educators as they revolutionize curricula to prepare students for the digital age. This data suggests that because the new industry professional must place the individual audience member at the center of any journalism, so too educators must teach future journalists accordingly. Calling on in-depth interviews with nearly 100 residents of Madison, WI over a period of two years, the evidence demonstrated that many people have reconceptualized news content. In the interviews, participants demanded opportunities for user-generated content, desired the chance to "dig deeper" into information channels, and said they expected ubiquitous, interactive news. In other words, they told researchers they wanted to be as much a part of newsgathering and dissemination as of news consumption. "Journalism as process" in an experiential-learning model moves the news-reporting course from teaching journalism as a discrete, finite product to understanding the news story as a process, a conversation, and a collaborative venture that is never finished. This particular conceptualization entails not only developing multimedia and interactive skill sets as many scholars have proposed, but also asks instructors to execute their courses so the audience member becomes a central agent in the productive process. Thus, this essay does not argue merely that course assignments include blogging or that lectures teach social-media techniques; rather, the author suggests that educators must completely rethink the operationalization of news content, story authorship, and journalistic norms and practices as well as the very definition of journalist-all based on data emerging from current digital transformations. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.