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“Journalism doesn’t come with an instruction manual”

by on September 17, 2012

Please read this fascinating piece by Mindy McAdams, a journalism professor at the University of Florida, about the need for J-students to learn how to learn ( – other things than just writing). What do you think? Where are you at with this?


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  1. While reading this article, I immediately saw a lot of myself in the type of Mindy McAdams teaches everyday. When I first heard about code or HTML I just sort of dismissed it as some rare form of knowledge that maybe I could learn at some point in my career. Now, I am beginning to hear about it more and more and about how it can give students the one up in an interview over the journalist that doesn’t know it. However, I still am not totally sure, and under what circumstances, HTML and code is used for. So basically, when would I need it? I think this is what she’s talking about when she writes how j-school students just enroll because “they want to write,” and not even think about anything else. Since taking multimedia journalism and entrepreneurial journalism, I have learned that the doors to my journalism career are open much wider than I ever thought when they would be when I first came to UMass. Being a senior here, I can say that the majority of the journalism classes I have taken so far were based on writing skills rather than multimedia. This is something I wish I could go back and change because the more multimedia classes I take, the more I realize that my skills in all areas of the field are just as, if not more, important than my writing.

  2. I can definitely relate to the students in the Mindy McAdam’s article. We choose journalism as a major and ultimately as a career because we like to write, but that all seems to get lost when we are forced to cover stories that seem unimportant to us like a town meeting as McAdam’s mentions. I think as a generation, we enjoy instant gratification, we want things instantaneously and simplified. It’s true, students will not do an assignment if they knew it will not be graded, and maybe that is what we need to work on the most, to treat every assignment as the most important. As a journalist it is vital to your career that you are well-rounded and can adapt to all kinds of communication technologies and become multimedia savvy, or else you will be left behind. So with that being said, students should take more opportunities to ‘self teach’ because that will benefit them in the long run.

  3. I think a lot of what McAdams says in her article is true. J-students chose journalism with the perception that no math or science skills are needed, for example. Personally, I originally chose journalism because I liked to write and I despised math and science. Crazy right? The perception is true. But, as a senior, what I have learned that this is anything but reality as a journalism student. If you asked me as a freshman if I’d be working with social media, photo-taking ad video editing — I’d say you were crazy. I just didn’t have it on my radar. But I am finding more and more that the skills required of a journalism are more as a “jack of all trades.” And I have been working on that skill set since I realized it was a necessity.

    But McAdams also says that we don’t know how to learn and that we can only replicate processes. The problem here is widespread, though. Not just in journalism, but I believe new media such as the internet and TV have disrupted our learning curve. We aren’t as sharp as we used to be. Artificial Intelligence makes things much easier for us in terms of remembering and recall.

    That being said, we could all stand to learn more about the skills required of a new journalist.

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