Journalism education faces a crossroads

In 2023, journalism educators will face a crucial moment of reflection. Does one continue with the status quo or make the leap for change?

As the COVID-19 pandemic upended education from K-12 to higher education, it provided a pause for many to think about the effectiveness of pedagogical approaches in the classroom and curriculum.

Is journalism education today training our students to be prepared for the newsroom of tomorrow?

Today’s news work environment reflects several factors: A complicated/always-on hybrid work environment; dealing with the political polarization occurring in all parts of the world that impact the communities news organizations cover; navigating a ruptured social media ecosystem; facing a growing urgency for mental wellness programs in newsrooms; and dealing with newsroom leadership in disarray. These are just a few factors happening in various newsrooms. These factors create a very different news ecosystem and work environment for journalists than before.

In 2023, journalism schools and departments will reassess how they teach storytelling and reporting, communication processes, newsroom leadership, and newsroom workflows to mesh to the future media landscape.

Next year, the importance of overall mental wellness and well-being of the journalist will become a part and/or bigger part of the curriculum in journalism schools/departments. Efforts outside of the academy, like The Self Investigation, are helping news organizations and journalists already with mental wellness courses and programs for journalists. New leadership and management courses will also be created that take a more holistic approach to what it means to mentor and guide a compassionate, diverse, and equitable newsroom team. The amazing efforts of the Open News team with its DEI Coalition and SRCCON:CARE demonstrate the kind of training and support that is happening now to help journalists dealing with newsroom culture, leadership and mentorship in news organizations. The efforts of The Self Investigation and Open News can serve as inspiration for the academy when assessing journalism pedagogy and curriculum in 2023 and beyond.

The journalism schools and departments that take the time to reflect on their current gaps in order to make strides to change their curriculum and pedagogy in 2023 will be taking a step in the right direction. Those who take this step will be helping to build a better journalism ecosystem and providing journalism students with the foundation they need to be resilient, empathetic, compassionate, and ready in these trying times.

Amy Schmitz Weissis a professor in the School of Journalism and Media Studies at San Diego State University.

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