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Home > Publications > Quill > It’s All About the Training: Get What You Want, When You Want It


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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
It’s All About the Training: Get What You Want, When You Want It

By Deb Wenger

Tackling today’s newsroom challenges has been compared to fixing a car while driving it, and today’s journalists may sometimes feel a little like car-crash victims.

Newsgathering and delivery methods are changing so rapidly, it can seem impossible to keep up.

SPJ recently surveyed members to find out what types of training they desire most. No. 1 on the list: training in how to use social media as a reporting tool.

TRAINING RESOURCES

According to our survey, SPJ members have three areas topping their training wish lists: social media, how to build a website and mobile. Here are some (of many) training resources available to SPJ members and non-members:

SOCIAL MEDIA

eCampus tutorials at SPJ.org — free to SPJ members

Reynolds Center for Business Journalism free self-guided, online tutorials

Poynter News University webinars and replays ($30 or less)

Knowledgewebb ($89 discounted membership for SPJ members)

Facebook’s Journalists Program

SPJ/RTDNA Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans — Sept. 25-27, 2011 ($195 pro, $145 student registration until August 31)

SPJ Newsroom Training Program

— brings one- to two-day workshops directly to your newsroom at minimal cost



MOBILE NEWSGATHERING

RTDNA webinar — free webinar replay

tinyurl.com/RTDNAMobile

Reynolds Journalism Institute and Will Sullivan’s guide to mobile reporting tools

SPJ/RTDNA Excellence in Journalism conference in New Orleans ¬— Sept. 25-27, 2011

HOW TO BUILD A WEBSITE

Poynter News University webinars

and replays

SPJ/RTDNA National Convention in New Orleans — Sept. 25-27, 2011

Knowledgewebb ($89 discounted membership for SPJ members)

Component of Freedom Forum Diversity Institute’s Advanced Multimedia

Boot Camp ($850)

tinyurl.com/FreedomForumBootCamp

“If you get involved in community conversations as a reporter, it’s a very valuable place to get tips and to build sources and just to understand what you’re writing about in general,” said Val Hoeppner, director of education at the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute.

SPJ member Steven Solomon works at the Tampa Tribune. He wants social media training to stay relevant to younger news audiences.

“Being of a certain age, I wasn’t born with all of this already in place,” Solomon says. “It takes some effort to stay current and not fall behind, and social media at least for me is the least understood multimedia skill.”

And there are plenty of opportunities for learning about social media as a journalistic tool. For example, at this year’s SPJ/RTDNA conference in New Orleans — Excellence in Journalism 2011 — at least three sessions will be devoted to the topic. In addition, video tutorials on the use of social media are available free to SPJ members on the eCampus section of the website; see spj.org/trainingondemand.asp.

In all, more than 450 members responded to the survey, with the largest percentages of responses coming from those who work in newspapers or online. After social media training, learning how to build a website came in second, followed by reporting for mobile devices.

Carl Corry is the online editor for local news at Newsday. He says mobile is the best way to get information out quickly.

“We use iPhones for photography, to quickly build photo galleries,” Corry said. “Journalists need to be able to do video with mobile phones.”

Corry says that even something as simple as knowing how to hold a phone properly while taking photos or video requires a little training.

At the Freedom Forum, Hoeppner is in the process of developing a one-day workshop on mobile newsgathering. And the SPJ survey indicated that more than 79 percent of respondents prefer to get their training in one-day sessions.

Hoeppner says mobile newsgathering can be introduced in a day, but brief isn’t always better.

“You can’t master video or audio in a one-day workshop,” Hoeppner said. “You can gain an appreciation, but the stickiness isn’t there. Unless you’re already fluent in multimedia, you can’t really put together audio or a video.”

And then, of course, there’s the issue of money. A majority of those responding to the survey said they would be willing to spend at least $50 of their own cash to acquire some of these skills.

That’s more than enough to get high-quality training at the Poynter Institute, according to Howard Finberg, director of interactive learning. He points to more than 100 webinar replays available through Poynter’s News University that specifically address the topics highlighted in the SPJ training survey.

“For example, for less than $30 right now you can access an online training module on 10 free things you can do for your website,” Finberg said. “We try to find ways that we can be affordable to a large number of people.”

But Finberg, too, says that the delivery method you choose can make a big

difference.

“You can participate in a webinar and may or may not get your questions answered, you can come to an online group seminar — a group of no more than 20 individuals — and you’ll get a chance to get some one-on-one coaching, or you can come to Poynter and you can get a week or three days of intensive training and walk away with confidence in

your skills.”

Deb Wenger is chairwoman of SPJ’s Professional Development Committee and teaches journalism at the University of Mississippi. Prior to teaching, she was assistant news director at WFLA-TV in Tampa, Fla.

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