Journalists are hungry for more learning?

News University reports that recent surveys have shown, more than 95 percent of professional journalists said they want more training, but they struggle with limited resources and finding time in their busy schedules.

For example, a survey about journalism training, conducted by Urban & Associates, Inc. for The Poynter Institute and News University in 2004 reveals that 95 percent of print journalists and 96 percent of broadcast journalists seek more training in a range of skills and are interested in various forms of learning, including a yearning for more access to e-learning and they want to grow to improve their performance in their current jobs.

The demand is especially high among newer professionals, those with less than ten years experience. While ninety-five percent of respondents said they would benefit from additional training and professional development, respondents under 45 years of age, and those working in journalism for ten years or less, are more likely to perceive the benefits of additional training.

According to the survey, time, money and accessibility stands between journalists and more training.

All survey respondents were asked about their experience with 19 different types of training programs offered within their industry. While clearly not an exhaustive list of all available training, the pattern mirrored that of previous studies.

The most frequently attended seminars or workshops were in-house sessions. Over 81 percent said they had attended one, 55 percent of them in the past year. Training programs offered by press associations were second with 66 percent having attended.

In addition, Poynter/NewsU analyzed three segments of the consumer marketplace – heavy users of training (respondents who’ve attended 7 or more training programs), medium users (4-6) and light users (1-3).

Respondents were presented with 15 different factors and asked how much each would influence their decision to attend a training seminar. Overall, practical content is the primary motivator, with significant proportions of respondents noting that these were “very important” factors:

  • Acquiring skills to improve performance in their current job (92 percent)
  • Their personal interest in the seminar/workshop topic (68 percent)
  • Applicability of the training to organization’s needs (54 percent).
  • Cost (tuition, accommodations, travel) was a close second behind applicability, mentioned as “very important” by about half of respondents, followed by two additional dimensions of utility:
  • The ability of the course to help advance a career, and
  • The opportunity to meet/network with industry professionals.

No other factor — course length, location, faculty, or even recommendations from supervisors — was seen as “very important” by more than one-third of respondents.

53 percent of respondents reported that their company usually paid all costs associated with a training program. Overall, 14 percent said they paid the costs for training themselves (the proportion was higher among those working in the broadcast industry). On average, however, 76 percent of the total costs of professional training are borne by the company.

A similar distribution is seen when the resource examined is time rather than money: 47 percent of respondents were trained fully on the company’s time, 13 percent on their own time, with an average of 73 percent of the time necessary for preparation, training and travel contributed by the company.

Eighteen different training topics were presented to respondents, who were asked how useful each would be to them. Six were evaluated as “very useful” by more than one-third of respondents, with an interest in Leadership topping the list:

  • Leadership strategies (61 percent)
  • Newsroom management skills (55 percent)
  • Legal issues such as privacy/libel (45 percent)
  • Ethics and values in journalism (45 percent)
  • Writing/reporting techniques (41 percent), and
  • Multimedia news storytelling (33 percent).

News University is a project of The Poynter Institute for Media Studies funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which is committed to providing interactive, inexpensive courses that appeal to journalists at all levels of experience and in all types of media.

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