Interviewing continues to be one of the most vital journalism skills. It helps journalists develop trustworthy, accurate and impactful storytelling.
Interviews are a tool for:
- Collecting authoritative information.
- Verifying information from other sources.
- Uncovering and exploring different perspectives.
Journalism skills for interviews go beyond asking questions.
Journalists need to prepare through goal setting and research. During interviews, they need active listening skills and the ability to maintain the flow and focus.
Conducting quality interviews isn’t easy. That’s why strong interviewing skills are highly sought-after.
Most U.S. adults say news organizations need more transparency. They want to know how journalists find and choose sources, produce their stories and issue corrections.
These concerns are related to reporting, another one of the most crucial journalism skills. Reporting is the heart of trustworthy and well-researched journalism.
Today’s journalists need the skills to:
- Identify, observe, gather, assess, record and share relevant information.
- Report with empathy and compassion.
- Conduct thorough journalistic research and evaluate information appropriate to their media.
- Understand and make meaning of data.
Growing public distrust in the media has drawn new attention to ethical journalism skills.
In 2000, approximately half of U.S. adults reported having a “great deal” or a “fair amount” of trust in the news media. That figure dropped to 40 percent by 2020.
Fortunately, 75 percent of U.S. adults say the news media can improve their level of confidence.
Producing journalism of the highest standard will earn public trust. To do so, practitioners must demonstrate ethical journalism skills. That means committing to truth, accuracy, fairness, diversity and freedom of speech.
Journalists must understand how to:
- Apply the best ideals of journalist excellence and ethics to new forms of media.
- Apply the principles and laws of freedom of speech and press.
- Produce inclusive work that illustrates an awareness of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and other forms of diversity.
Writing is another foundational journalism skill. Journalists must master written communication for all media types, from text stories and podcast scripts to photo captions and social media posts.
Journalism skills related to writing include understanding the principles of grammar and punctuation. Journalists should also know how to write clearly, simplify complex information and adhere to a style guide.
- Digital Journalism Skills
The public’s growing preference for digital media means that digital journalism skills are now imperative.
Journalists must be able to strategically use digital storytelling tools to connect with audiences on various platforms. This means thinking critically and creatively about the best forms of media to serve the target audience.
Here are a few examples of digital journalism skills:
- Live streaming video on Twitter from a mobile device.
- Transforming a data spreadsheet into a responsive visualization for a website.
- Shooting and editing video into a series of GIFs.
- Investigative Reporting
Investigative reporting helps protect individuals and society from harmful practices. It ensures accountability, drives change and preserves democracy.
Recent recipients of The Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting uncovered predatory lending in the New York City taxi industry, the source of opioids in Western Virginia and escalating neglect in Florida mental health hospitals.
Where there’s potential wrongdoing, there’s an opportunity for investigative reporting. For that reason, it will always be one of the core journalism skills.
Investigative reporting takes special craft. Journalists must know how to integrate all of the foundational journalism skills in this list—but on a larger and more complex scale.
- Mobile Journalism Skills
The top journalism skills include mobile proficiency.
Of the U.S. adults who get their news from digital devices, approximately 7 in 10 rely on news websites or apps. That’s more than the number who prefer search, social media or podcasts.
Today’s journalists must use mobile devices to connect with the public. To do so, they need the mobile journalism skills to:
- Take and edit photos.
- Record and edit audio and video.
- Report in real-time on social or traditional news channels.
- Publish stories on the go.
Editing is also among the most desirable journalism skills. Journalists should know how to critically evaluate their work and that of others.
Copyediting is a necessary step in creating excellent journalism. It ensures:
- Appropriate style.
- Grammatical correctness.
- Social Media
Social media is the third-most-common source of digital news among U.S. adults. Fifty-three percent get their news from social media, at least sometimes.
That number could increase. Between 2014 and 2019, social media use rose steadily across adults of all ages.
The widespread consumption of news on social media means journalists need the skills to:
- Connect with audiences on the most popular platforms. Most U.S. adults who get their news on social media do so on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit.
- Report in real-time on the various social platforms. This involves critical and creative thinking about the most appropriate media for each platform.
- Build a personal brand on social media. Twitter is the leading social network among journalists, and LinkedIn is gaining popularity.
- Video Journalism Skills
Modern journalists must know how to create impactful content for video.
Digital media has given Americans more ways to watch the news, which is how many like to consume it. Forty-seven percent of U.S. adults prefer viewing the news over reading or listening to it, either on TV or online.
Video journalism skills are both editorial and technical. Today’s journalists must be proficient in all of them—from developing a compelling narrative to shooting and editing video on a mobile device.
Credit: St Bonaventure University