New Skills for the Next Generation of Journalists




Journalists have an essential role in the new media landscape as a pillar of credible and contextualized information. Being in competition with several alternatives, non-professional or even deliberately manipulated news, professional journalism should be empowered by new competencies and skills. Among the opportunities enabled by digital technologies, processing, analysing and visualizing big amounts of data as well as the multi-sectoral and digital cross-border co-operations open new fields of journalistic activities, and new ways to speak about public issues. However, this environment also entails technical and economic risks, and it demands expertise in IT security as well as the development of business models and strategies from journalists and media companies. Journalists face several ethical challenges that should be handled to meet their social responsibilities. Fake news and hate speech have become a big issue in the public sphere, and so have whistleblowing and activism.

By improving skills of a new generation of European journalists, NEWSREEL will contribute to the strengthening of the common European democratic public sphere by improving the collaborative and cross-border journalism that is able to elaborate and make tangible the huge amount of available data, and that is based on a predictable business strategy and a firm ethical foundation.

The project will focus on 4 professional fields:

Computer-assisted reporting (data journalism), data visualization: The purpose of this field is to help journalists reporting more credible stories, based on the more precise information. Putting data in a visual form may reveal patterns and insights that weren’t identifiable otherwise. In this way, the audience can better understand complex issues.

New business strategies and models of journalism: The technological and economic development brought significant risks for journalism as well. By the weakening of the traditional forms of monetization of media products and services, the stable financial sustainability of high-quality journalism has been endangered; the weaker the media market of a country is, the higher the risk for journalism’s financial problems, especially quality journalism.

Collaborative journalism: We use this term in different but connecting meanings. It covers teamwork, cross-border and multi-sectoral collaboration. Transnational team-working is a key element. European cross-border investigations can improve the transparency of the European social political and economic decision making and the expenses of the European public money, but also transnational private business conduct and even transnational criminal activities. Transnational journalism is in the position to highlight best practices in handling the free circulation of goods and services, capital and people (be workers, students or tourists). The increasing complexity of journalism projects makes necessary the cooperation between experts of several fields, such as journalists, data journalists, IT experts and designers.

Ethical challenges of the digital public sphere: The social responsibility of journalists in the digital public sphere is greater than ever. They still should provide credible information on the public issues, but they have to compete with a mass of non-professional, often inaccurate information. Digital technologies enable whistle-blowers to deliver sensitive information to journalists, without disclosing their identity. Journalists face day to day aggressive communication against particular social groups, political decisions but also their own performance. Journalists become easily activists, turning away from the positions of observer and reporter, traditionally devised for this professional activity.

The main goal of the project is developing e-learning materials connected to the given fields. All educational materials produced by the project will be made openly and freely accessible through open licenses via the project’s website.

Phase 1: Researching and benchmarking
The aim of phase 1 is to ground the development of syllabuses and teaching materials that can be incorporated in journalism education at universities and that are able to reflect on the needs of the stakeholders in the participating countries. The initial conditions – e.g. the state of journalism education regarding new skills and tools of journalism, the spread of journalistic performances based on new skills and tools – are different in the participating countries, and these are not necessarily mapped in published analyses.

Phase2: Developing syllabi
In this phase we are developing detailed syllabi for establishing the structure of the e-learning materials and embedding these materials into the programs of journalism studies. We will develop four syllabi  in the fields of
• computer assisted reporting (data journalism), data visualisation,
• financial planning of journalism projects, business plans and strategies,
• collaborative journalism (teamwork in journalism, cross-border journalism, multi-sectoral cooperation)
• ethical challenges of the digital public sphere.
All of the syllabi will be freely available on the project website.

Phase3: Developing e-learning materials
The core activity of the project is developing and publishing e-learning materials in English on the topics of
• computer assisted reporting (data journalism), data visualization,
• financial planning of journalism projects, business plans and strategies,
• collaborative journalism,
• ethical challenges of the digital public sphere.

All of the e-learning materials will include
• the elaborated professional textual content of the given field,
• multimedia elements (graphics, audio and video extensions),
• interactive tutorials for deepening and controlling the obtained knowledge, and for using the materials for self-education,
• methodological guidelines for using the materials in classroom-teaching,
• a list of literatures.
The e-learning materials are planned primarily for using as teaching materials for university courses. However they will be established in order to learn without any teacher’s supervision.

Phase4: Developing a teachers’ guide
The set of activities in Phase 4 aims at testing and finalizing the syllabi and the e-learning materials, and at summarizing the project results in a form that will help to use the results by third parties. As a result of these activities we will have
• courses at the participating universities as a pilot teaching activity, all of the participants will organize at least one course with 14 lessons (at least a one semester long course); during these courses, we will implement the syllabi and use all of the e-learning materials,
• a teacher’s guide that summarizes the professional and methodological content of the project; it gives a detailed description on the skills and competencies developed by the teaching materials, a collection of practical examples, and a commented collection of the teaching materials,
• an intensive, 2 days teaching program, for 10 students in each of the participating universities who take part at the international student competition organized as the final event of the project; the participating students will assemble a portfolio that demonstrates their ability to engage in an international journalistic project.

Phase5: Creating a glossary
During phase 5, we are collecting the notions and terms connected to journalism in English, that helps to build a common knowledge base. Because of the novelty of the elaborated information and competences, there is no common framework of notions and terminology. The structure of the glossary will follow the fields of the syllabi and the e-learning materials.