Monday, 24 October 2011

NCTJ holds seminar on the need to 'teach journalists to Tweet'

There's an interesting story on Hold the Front Page about teaching journalists to Tweet.

The importance of teaching social media skills was discussed at the National Council for the Training of Journalists' digital training seminar, says HTFP.

I wasn't at the seminar and I'm sure plenty of useful points were made. But I have to say I'm surprised this subject even needs to be discussed. I think journalism qualification courses should already have it as a central component of their programmes.

There's no doubt that new journalists need to use and understand social media and the chances are a few of the newcomers could teach some of us a thing or two.

But what about those already in journalism who haven't yet taken the plunge? I'm sure we all still encounter working journalists who are resistant to using Twitter and other tools, just as Steve Buttry has. I've also met the real cynics who still think social media is just a bunch of self-important people telling no-one in particular about what they had for lunch.

Journalists need:
a) to be encouraged and given the space to try things out - and sometimes get it wrong
b) an understanding of how social media tools can help them with their job
c) to appreciate the fact that it's not about 'telling' or 'broadcasting' - it's about connecting them with their communities.

Oh, and they also need IT departments that don't frown at the idea of downloading social media clients such as Tweetdeck.

So, teaching journalists to use social media effectively is important. I'm assuming newcomers - such as those on  NCTJ pre-entry courses and journalism degrees - will find it easier to adopt the tools because they're already using some. They're also lucky enough not to be burdened by the mental baggage of the 'traditional' way of doing things.

But I think it's some of the old guard, the ones who won't be actively seeking out tips on Mashable, who probably need the most help - and the most convincing.

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