The web and the digital media are getting more and more image-driven; yet photography is not considered an essential skill by many journalism educators – only a small number of journalism programs list photography as a core/required course in the curriculum.
The web is getting more and more “visual”
Image is being produced and shared at an unprecedented pace, aided by the ever-increasing availability of digital cameras and smartphones, the viral image-driven social media such as Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and the improving availability and quality of broadband Internet access. The phenomenal growth of Pinterest and Instagram this year has made 2012 the start of “visual web” era.
According to a recent study by ROI Research, when asked what people enjoy the most about contents their friends posted, it is pictures that top the list. In another survey of media professionals, 80 percent of journalists polled say it is important or very important to have access to photos and visual images. Visual contents are not only popular – they drive traffic; visual storytelling works better than text stories.
Lack of on-job training for working journalists to go multitasking
We have been bombarded with news about how the newspaper industry is struggling to stay afoot and how more and more newsrooms are downsizing. The shrinking size of newsroom staff blurs the line between reporter, editor, photographer, etc. A journalist now needs to be capable of multitasking, and taking photos is a big part of multitasking.
However, according to a national survey of journalists in 2012, the biggest complaint of U.S. journalists is lack of training, ahead of pay and benefits. Due to budget and time restraints, there won’t be any quick remedy for this no. 1 source of job dissatisfaction.
Shall we expect journalism schools to fill in the blank?
Only a small number of journalism programs deem photography as essential
Photography should be part of the essential skill set for journalism students; that it should be a core/required course in a digital or multimedia journalism program which strives to train”digital journalists.” However, journalism educators seem to think otherwise.
Among the 47 “fully integrated” digital/multimedia journalism programs, identified out of more than 500 programs in U.S., only eight (8) programs have photography as a core or required course; most other programs have photography as an elective course. The eight programs and the course titles are listed below:
- University of Texas El Paso: Digital Photography
- University of Texas Austin: Reporting: Image
- Central Arkansas University: Basic Press Photography
- Auburn University: Photojournalism
- Spring Hill College: Photography
- Berry College: Photojournalism
- Jackson State University: Photojournalism
- University of Nebraska Kearney: News Writing & Photography
- List of 108 digital/multimedia journalism programs in U.S.
- Digital/multimedia journalism education: The accelerating trend
- What is a digital/multimedia journalism course?
- How to teach digital/multimedia journalism? An analysis of 30 syllabi
- Gap between journalism education and the (changing) journalism profession
- What is a digital/multimedia journalism program curriculum?
- How to develop a forward-looking digital journalism program? (must read!)
- Digital training is lacking for journalism students
- A survey of master’s programs in digital journalism in U.S.
- What to teach in an intro digital journalism class: web writing, mobile, data and social media