Journalism schools are best positioned to be market leaders in web-based content training

There will be growing demands for content trainings from institutions that want to engage target audiences, and journalism schools should seize this opportunity; that’s my argument in a previous post. To continue on that topic – j-schools are positioned to be leaders in the web-based content training market, because they already possess two components of an online training model – curriculum and instructors, as shown in the diagram below.

online journalism training

A journalism curriculum provides foundation for content training

The goal of content training is how to produce engaging contents, not just how to use new digital tools. With some adaptions and modifications, a journalism curriculum provides the best structure for digital content training:

  • broadcast journalism skills for producing videos on smartphones
  • photography skills for taking good photos in audio slideshows
  • “inverted pyramid” writing skills for texts optimized for online reading
  • radio journalism skills for creating web/mobile audio contents
  • news value training for seeing stories behind data and numbers
  • interview skills for approaching people and asking questions
  • research skills for content research and information verification
  • ……

People can find tutorials on any tools on the web, but it takes more than tools and gadgets to produce contents that engage people. For instance, in a previous post, I said that it takes more than apps and smartphones to produce a polished audio slideshow – you need to know what photos to take and how to take (frame) a photo, and that’s one basic skill for journalism students.

Journalism students are natural fits for online instructors

While most knowledge is freely available on the web, people are still coming to schools for face-to-face teaching/learning. It is everyone’s experience that, when learning something new, it’s more efficient if there’s someone who walks you through and advises you as needed.

For large-scale online training, j-schools have something other training institutions don’t have: journalism students, who provide for a steady supply of trained instructors. As more and more j-schools are incorporating digital journalism into their curricula, journalism students are being trained in both journalistic skills and digital skills. With some additional training in online instruction, j-students will provide for a large and stable pool of instructors.

A streamlined online platform is now the bottleneck

Online courses have been fairly established in format and delivery. However, the current online course platforms are not created with digital content production in mind – they don’t work with multimedia contents typical of digital production: interactives, audios, videos, photos, etc. Popular online teaching platforms such as Moodle, as seen in the screenshot below, are geared more toward text-based contents.


For online digital content training, in addition to the well-established online course formats, the training platform needs some more functions:

  • Front-end solution for content gathering: this may be a smartphone app with which students can capture multimedia contents, edit the contents on smartphones or mobile devices, and transmit finished projects back to the teaching platform.
  • Content management system (CMS): there needs to be a streamlined workflow that handles rich media contents, and provides for the needed interactivity for instructions.
  • Online publishing platform: for practicing and testing skills in blogging, web writing, SEO writing, embedding, content sharing, social media promotion, etc.

As of this writing, I have not found such an online training platform. But I’m confident in the law of demand/supply – as long as there is a (growing) market demand, there will always be a supply.

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About Mu Lin

Dr. Mu Lin is a digital journalism professional and educator in New Jersey, United States. Dr. Lin manages an online marketing company. He also manages MulinBlog Online J-School (, a free online journalism training program, which offers courses such as Audio Slideshow Storytelling; Introduction to Social Media Marketing; Writing for the Web; Google Mapping for Communicators; Introduction to Data Visualization; Introduction to Web Metrics and Google Analytics.
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2 Responses to Journalism schools are best positioned to be market leaders in web-based content training

  1. This is a very interesting post that touches on a subject most j-schools, and all universities for that matter, do not realize. Online training isn’t as effective as field work and experience. Also, I am concerned that journalists of the future are being asked here to take on way too much responsibility. How can we be great in languages, news writing, audio, video and photography, all the while filtering out stories from data? You can be okay at all these, good in some, great in one or two. It’s rare that someone is proficient at all, and if they are their salary should match their skills. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen.

    I disagree that journalism schools will be leaders in content-based training. Certainly they have the potential to be, but in my experience, this is not the case. Too much theory and little practicality.

    • mulinblog says:

      Thanks for the comment. When I say j-schools can be leaders in content training, I’m talking about skills training – I don’t think there’s any market demand for theory training. And speaking of salary for someone who “is proficient at all” – if more and more institutions are chasing such proficient-at-all people for their brand content marketing, then their salary will definitely match their skills due to the higher demands.

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