According to a new report by the Knight Foundation, lack of training outranks salary and job security concerns for journalists. Authored by Knight consultant Michele McLellan and senior adviser Eric Newton, the report surveyed “active alumni” of the Knight Network from the U.S. and abroad. Though the report “focuses on Knight-funded training,” wrote its authors, “we believe its insights are relevant to all who care about journalism training’s best practices.”
Some of the report’s findings include:
- One in four journalists surveyed are dissatisfied with training opportunities in the newsroom. Lack of training ranked higher than concerns about pay, benefits and job security.
- Eighty-five percent of journalists reported wanting more training, mostly the digital and multimedia variety. In a 2006 Knight survey, only 40 percent wanted to learn more digital skills. Now, 71 percent do.
- Most of the respondents, about 60 percent, ranked their news organizations as average or below average for training, and most are pessimistic about the ability of traditional news organizations to adapt to technological change. A chief concern among them is an absence of a learning culture in newsrooms, and a lack of experimentation.
- Three-quarters of the journalists surveyed said their training was very useful, and a slightly smaller number said that online training was just as good or better than in person training. About half of the respondents reported spending money out of pocket for training in the past year, a number that is higher for journalists outside the U.S.
- A core reason for lack of training is lack of funds in the struggling industry. However, the authors recommended that newsrooms learn from other industries where strategic training translates to business success. Citing a study of over five thousand organizations, the authors showed that strategic training allows organizations to become more constructive and flexible.
One example of how training can impact a news organization is The Seattle Times. Its top editors attributed their Pulitzer Prize and AP Managing Editors Innovator of the Year Award to attending digital media workshops. The report is littered with training success stories from health journalism saving lives to investigative reporting that rooted out corruption.
Do you feel like training is lacking in newsrooms today?