'Insight into Journalism Day' at The Guardian

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 20 April 2009

A couple of weeks back I went to a lunchtime function within The Guardian, in the Scott Room, where tonight we will be hosting London Mini-IA. The lunch was an opportunity for some students who were visiting the newspaper for the day to mingle with staff and journalists.

The Guardian Kings Place Entrance

I was interested for two reasons.

Firstly I was keen to see what kind of multimedia technology the students used and had been exposed to. I was pleased to hear that the majority had done some kind of blogging either for themselves or for publications. A couple of people were clearly more adventurous than others - when I asked one guy about multimedia content, he explained that he had downloaded and used Audacity for audio editing, and the GIMP for manipulating images.

I was, naturally, using the opportunity to promote my belief that to be an employable journalist of the future, digital literacy and the ability to make and edit multimedia packages will be a minimum requirement.

I was a little concerned that some of the reaction to that veered into the "well, there isn't a module for that in my course and I don't have the money to do extra training". I suspect that is symptomatic of having come through an education system that relentlessly teaches and tests to a narrow top-down curriculum.

I tried to encourage them that there were plenty of 'howto' guides and tutorials on the web for web-based skills. I'm not knocking paid tuition in new media areas - I do it myself - but I did feel that a few of the people I spoke to didn't have the spirit of inquisitive adventure about learning how to do things on the web that I associate with successful digital journalists.

The second thing of interest for me was a chance to actually mingle with some of the writing staff on The Guardian. Although we are all 'converged' into the one building, I haven't really had much cause to meet up with many of the journalists yet, and so it was good to hear some of them tell their career stories, and explain how they felt about the future of the profession.

The event was part of an 'Insight into Journalism Day' which the paper runs several times a year. If you are interested in a potential career in journalism and the media and are over 18, then you can apply to go on one by emailing work.experience@guardian.co.uk.


Martin - I liken what you're discussing here to the "you can bring a horse to water but you can't make him drink" phenomenon.

Many of the Realtors I talk to who complain about not having enough visibility or generating enough leads are reluctant to start up a blog, engage in social media networking, etc.

I can sort of see the push back from the old schoolers - ones who still spend time walking through neighborhoods among their "farming" areas.

Some will get it, some won't - but they'll all see sooner or later that real and relevant online communication is key to their survival.

When it comes to folks in the journalism field, I simply can't see where folks don't see that online communication and direct involvement within the multimedia sphere is a must.

I suppose what we're dealing with is a sort of evolution / extinction issue.

I think that there have been a host of stories over the last year or so that have shown that you cannot ignore social media sources if you are a serious journalist.

Although there are still areas where personal contacts (e.g.parliamentary coverage) outweighs any amount of time on the internet this is not true for events involving more than a few individuals or ones we are not close to geographically.

I use Audacity and GIMP too, though I don't think they are for the faint hearted.

Actually, I would recommend the Magnum photo agency site as a great source of ideas about how to present stories on the internet.

Hi Martin,

First of all, great post and great website - I try and recommend it to all my student journalism friends.

Certainly, student journalists must be made aware that 'digital literacy and the ability to make and edit multimedia packages will be a minimum requirement.' I think it definitely helps to hear industry insiders like you, Charles Moore etc. actually saying it.

I'm passionate about the future of journalism and in June I'm presenting a joint paper to the Association of Journalism Education on 'The Future of Journalism Education' - it'd be great to hear more of your thoughts on what skills a graduate journalist should have at their disposal.

Thanks again,


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