An earlier post pinpointed some of the challenges that surfaced in a WJEC syndicate discussion around the topic of social media(SM) and the implications for journalism educators (J-Eds). But as everyone knows it is one thing to ask the questions; it is often something quite different to find answers.
However, an attempt was made to suggest a way forward if JEs are going to recognise SM as a worthy ingredient in any well-rounded journalism training recipe. To this end then Julie Posetti, who had chaired the syndicate, presented a list of six recommendations. While not exhaustive and somewhat skeletal (they await further fleshing out when the final syndicate report appears at a later stage), they do nevertheless present current J-Eds with something to chew on. So what do J-Eds need to do?
1. Accept that as a result of new media developments , SM should increasingly be considered an essential component in any journalism training initiative, even where lack of connectivity seems to pose problems, and especially in view of the fact that the ubiquitous cellphone has levelled the playing fields.
2. Such acceptance requires that J-Eds themselves, although perhaps not directly involved in training, have an abligation to keep abreast of SM developments.
3. The onus would appear to fall on J-Eds to find ways of embedding SM practice into aspects of the so-called ‘traditional’ journalism curriculum.
4. J-Eds need to be sensitive to the debate surrounding journalism ethics and professionalism especially as it pertains to the use of SM in journalism, what Posetti calls “managing the Personal/Professional divide”.
5. Be prepared to teach and support students, through SM use, in building networks of professional contacts that extend beyond friends and local news.
6. Explore the use of SM as a vehicle to get students excited about topics which interest them and engage in, and collaborate with, local communities.