Journalism Next/The Digital Journalist's Handbook

By Shepard, Jason M. | Journalism & Mass Communication Educator, Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

Journalism Next/The Digital Journalist's Handbook


Shepard, Jason M., Journalism & Mass Communication Educator


* Briggs, Mark (2010). Journalism Next. Washington, DC: CQ Press, pp. 359.

* Luckie, Mark S. (2010). The Digital Journalist's Handbook. CreateSpace. pp. 252.

Journalism schools around the country are trying to get ahead of - or simply catch up to - the revolution occurring in the profession. While schools are under intense pressure to beef up multimedia offerings to better prepare our students for the digital shift in journalism, some have reinvented their curriculum from the ground up. Departments and faculty are making incremental changes, from creating a "multimedia journalism" class to integrating basic digital assignments into traditional reporting classes. Faculty trained and experienced in traditional broadcast or print journalism are attending training seminars or teaching themselves new software using online tutorials.

We know that for our students to be successful in the tumultuous job market today they need to have strong critical thinking skills and grounding in journalism ethics and practices. But they also need to be versatile with the latest equipment and software. They need to be "platform agnostic," entrepreneurial, and innovative. And they need to know which technology is best for telling a story.

One challenge for instructors of journalism skills courses is finding the right texts that emphasize the fundamentals of reporting and writing while embracing the theories and skills necessary for success in the digital world. Many reporting texts have struggled to embrace digital and "new media" skills while retaining fundamental aspects of writing, reporting, and thinking "journalistically."

Two new affordable handbooks on digital reporting are strong supplements to traditional reporting textbooks. While neither text is strong enough to stand on its own, each offers sound instruction and examples on important digital journalism skills, including blogging, Web architecture, audio, photography, video, and social media.

The more visually appealing of the two books is Journalism Next, written by journalist Mark Briggs and published in November 2009 by CQ Press. The text is a smart, user-friendly, and affordable handbook on multimedia skills and software. Its detailed, yet concise, eleven chapters of instruction on the latest technologies help students learn how to become expert readers by setting up RSS feeds, creating blogs and building markets of readers, and strategically using social-media networks to communicate. Chapters also focus on accessible training in photography, audio, and video. For students working in computer labs, the book's software tutorials can be fodder for classroom assignments and references.

Chapters on specific technologies and software are basic, but give students a good starting point. For example, the chapter on audio editing begins with a breezy introduction on why audio reporting is compelling and how easy it is to produce. The chapter uses National Public Radio as a case study, showcasing screen shots and a "tech innovator" sidebar featuring tips from NPR's Jonathan Kern on writing for audio. The chapter features tips for purchasing a digital recorder, preparing an interview subject, and editing sound using Audacity. …

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