What skills should a college journalist develop?

There’s an interesting debate shaping up in the college journalism blogosphere over the skills a college journalist needs. Is it writing? Multimedia? Some of both?

This was touched off by a post from Leonard Witt, a j-school prof at Kennesaw State University. He was worried that in all the rush to focus on multimedia, the essential skills of writing and reporting would get lost. He was responding to some comments made recently by the Wash Post’s multimedia guru Rob Curley who urged college journalism students to “get with it” when it comes to multimedia.

And that prompted Rob Curley to respond on his blog. And for the most part, he agreed with Witt that college journalists should: “Be able to write and report your ass off, and have a great mindset when it comes to how we might need to tell those stories — regardless of the current technology or methods of distribution.”

But less this squabble die out too quickly, Curley came back with this observation:

“My best guess is that it’s about them knowing how to do one of those things extremely well, and then understanding how important the other positions on the field are. And that’s where most of them seem to fall flat. My biggest question to J-Schools now is why are your students so dang close-minded? Where was that instilled, and what are you going to do to help them graduate with a degree and a mindset that will keep them employed as long as they want to be members of the Fourth Estate?”

Bryan Murley, of Innovation in College Media, sums it all up:

The consensus would seem to be that there might be places for some pure-play “serious non-fiction writers” in the future of journalism, but they’re going to be few and far between.

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