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Multimedia: essential for aspiring journalists

I’m a radio journalist, I don’t do TV,” is something journalists in the current changing media landscape can’t say anymore.

I’m a radio journalist, I don’t do TV,” is something journalists in the current changing media landscape can’t say anymore. Anyone hoping to success in the competitive journalism market place will not only have to work with written words, a piece of audio or some video footage, but with all these combined and plenty of other tools that make digital storytelling so powerful.

‘Do things for different platforms’

I recently met Stuart Hughes, Senior World Affairs Producer at BBC News, who spent most of his career working as a foreign correspondent. He explained how today’s foreign correspondents need multiskilling and must be familiar with the latest newsgathering technologies and how to best use it.

“If I can give you one tip,” he said, “Develop as many skills as you can and do things for different platforms. If you become a freelance, it gives you more outlets to sell your work.”

It is now over when a foreign correspondent was nothing more than a reporter who emailed his copy and did nothing else, leaving the cameraman to handle the pictures. Nowadays, they are often expected to do the complete job by shooting photos and videos, prepare radio and TV broadcasts, post and interact on social media channels and report breaking news on mobile devices.

We’ve heard many times about newspapers’ circulation and sales dropping but journalism is not dying, it is only entering a new era like any other field, which has to adapt to the 21st century. Becoming a journalist in the digital age requires applying different skills to different platforms. It is important for today’s journalists to reconstruct their skills sets to the growing world of online media.

New knowledge for a new age

For a concrete example, just look at an online article. You don’t need only to be good at writing, you have to show off other skills including making a video package, which itself includes many different skills. Online newspapers and magazines became much more interactive and today’s journalists need to be able to follow the constant evolution of the media.

Journalism studies followed this evolution and made their education adapted to the digital age. People working in journalism for decades will often ask you what your journalism studies are about. At their time, journalism didn’t need any particular skill except from a good ability to write.

You didn’t need a degree to enter a newspaper—you mostly needed experience often starting from the bottom. Nowadays, journalism courses are filled with video editing, pictures taking or use of social media.

In any journalism course, either you are specializing in print, radio or broadcast, you will have to touch a bit of everything to make sure you have the knowledge necessary to apply for a job in the end.

Modern times made the practice of these specific skills essential to enter the world of journalism. The more you have, the better.

What do you think? What is necessary to be ready to do journalism in a multimedia age? Have your say in the comments section below.

Image: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Flickr