Meeting the next generation of European journalists

I had an interesting exchange yesterday with students who are following the Masters in European Journalism organised by the Institut des Hautes Etudes des Communication Sociales (IHECS) in Brusssels.

The course aims to equip the next generation of EU journalists with the skills they will need to cover European affairs in a rapidly changing media environment.  Most of the workshops and assignments are overseen by practicing journalists and media professionals.

The students I met were a lively group of “digital natives” who seem to be at ease producing content for a wide range of media – print, web, blogs, social media, audio, video etc….  They recognise that digital media are changing the nature of journalism, but on the whole regard the growing importance of social media for breaking news and the emergence of the “citizen journalist” as more of an opportunity than a threat.

Social media offer journalists new opportunities to crowdsource stories, make contacts, engage with their audiences and promote their work.  And professional journalists continue to provide added value by checking facts, putting events in context, providing background and telling different sides of a story.  The key challenge, as the group from IHECS recognised all too clearly, is to make a decent living in this context, as well as finding the necessary budget and resources to produce quality journalistic work.

I asked what input and support they would ideally hope to receive from an institution like the European Commission.  According to the feedback I received from this group, the most useful resources for the next generation of European journalists are likely to be access to comparative data, real-life examples and the opportunity to participate in press trips that allow them to report on EU stories from outside of the “Brussels bubble”.

More about the impact of social media on journalism

Update (24 November 2012)

Just a few days after I posted these thoughts on digital media and journalism, the Council’s press service uploaded this excellent video that explains how Twitter and other social media have become an essential working tool for journalists covering EU summits.

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