Leaving Old Habits Behind: A Guide to Journalism Training
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April 30, 2014

Editors and reporters have a growing list of skills they want to learn, especially in an era of rapid change in the industry.

They don’t just want to write – they want to shoot video on their smartphones. It’s no longer enough to get a source to cough up some telling data—a newsroom staff needs to be equipped to show the data online visually.

And, with the increasing demands for new skills, newsrooms are fielding more requests for reviews of the basics, such as reporting and writing on deadline.

Here are a variety of newsroom training, online courses and other resources to help innovators rethink how to approach their jobs:

Training on Your Own

Journalists who want to further hone their skills have many options, both online and at conferences, held in various locations across the country.

Lynda.com: This online education company offers courses about programming, software, design and business. Video tutorials are available to subscribing members. Memberships range from $25 a month to $37.50, according to its website.

Codeacademy.com: Codeacademy offers instruction in six programming languages for free. Targeting non-programmers, the platform motivates users to participate by giving badges and points.

edX.orgCoursera.org: These two organizations offer popular massive open online courses (MOOCs) —  classes taught via video lectures by faculty from universities which have partnered with the sites. edX is a Harvard University-MIT initiative and Coursera is a private company. Each offers free and paid memberships, according to their sites. Relevant classes for journalists could include design, programming and law.

NewsU.org: NewsU offers webinars and self-directed classes about many facets of journalism. From ethics to advertising to census coverage, this Poynter Institute platform ranges from free to more than $500 per course/webinar.


IRE 2014 in San Francisco, Calif. June 26-29: Training sessions at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference include business, investigative and watchdog journalism. Deadline to register: June 11. Cost: $100-$230.

2014 Online News Association Conference and Awards Banquet in Chicago, Ill. Sept. 25-27: Training sessions have not been announced yet, but past conferences have included design, storytelling with data, and mobile journalism. Deadline to register: Sept. 11. Cost: $175-$989.

Journalism, Leadership & Management Conference 2014 at the University of Minnesota. June 5-8: Training sessions (for students) include content, media law, audience and leadership. Deadline to register: June 5. Cost per student: $309.

Society of Environmental Journalists’ 24th Annual Conference in New Orleans, La. Sept. 3-7: Training sessions include covering natural and man-made disasters, as well as field trips looking at the ecology of Louisiana and Mississippi. Deadline to register: Sept. 3. Cost: $80-$1,050.

SABEW 2015 Spring Conference in Chicago. April 23-25, 2015: Past Society of American Business Editors and Writers conference training sessions have included data visualization, financial blogging and detecting corporate fraud. Cost: $289-$400

ASNE – APME 2014 Convention in Chicago. Sept. 15-17: Sessions include a showcase of innovation, improving mobile and audience engagement, amid other topics. Deadline to register: Aug. 29 is the deadline to book a hotel room specially reserved at a block rate of $189/night. Conference Registration Cost: $50-$350

NAB SHOW 2015  in Las Vegas. April 11-16, 2015. Past National Association of Broadcasters conventions have included training on editing software, digital publishing, leadership and audience development.

Midwest Journalism Conference 2015 in Bloomington, Minn. April 2015: Training sessions are still being planned, but past conferences have included visual storytelling, internships and mobile strategies. Registration deadline: not open yet. Cost: $30-$200.

Newsroom Training

Society of Professional Journalists, Poynter and Investigative Reporters and Editors are among the organizations working with newsrooms to provide training.

The need for training has grown steadily since the industry has shifted to online content, according to Deb Wenger, who conducts multi-media training for SPJ and is also the head of the journalism department at the University of Mississippi.

SPJ newsroom training is focused on newer skills, like shooting video on a smartphone, as well as foundational skills, such as ethics and reporting on a deadline, Wenger said.

The Poynter Institute has also partnered with newspapers to provide training and has pursued new partnerships this year, according to Howard Finberg, director of business development.

Last year, McClatchy launched a partnership with the Poynter Institute in an effort to provide training to its 1,700 employees across the country.

Topics included data journalism and video content, as well as “foundational” skills, like reporting and editing, according to McClatchy’s vice president for news, Anders Gyllenhaal.

Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) also offers trainings; last year, the nonprofit organization launched a free training program funded by a private donor for small-to-medium sized newsrooms.

IRE’s Total Newsroom Training received 75 to 80 applications for seven available slots last year. This year’s program closed its application period last month.

Mark Horvit, the executive director of IRE, said sessions “could be anything,” but they almost always involve analyzing data and using online tools to better stories.

For reporters at The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla., training “took us to a high level,” said editor Lenore Devore.

About 15 people from her staff completed the training, mostly dealing with Excel and investigative reporting, she said.


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