By: Sadiyyah Rice, Intern, NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force, Recording Secretary, Greater St. Louis Association of Black Journalists, Editor, Higher Education Channel Television
The Journalism industry, much like any other, finds that the most employable job candidates are those fluent in more than one language.
More and more journalists are finding that marketable other language to be “code”.
Miranda Mulligan, executive director of the Knight Innovation Lab, implores journalism schools to strengthen their digital journalism curricula in her article “Want To Produce Hirable Grads, Journalism Schools? Teach Them To Code”. She stresses that code writing should be taught to future journalists from their first semester in j-school until their graduations so that they can be more marketable and in order to remove the underlying “fear of the Internet” from newsrooms across the country.
I spoke with Jennifer Matthews, a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma’s Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Matthews agreed with Mulligan that journalists who leave j-school proficient in code writing are the missing links in newsrooms today.
“Coding is important in today’s journalism because it doesn’t all fall on the editor anymore,” Matthews says. “If you are out in the field and you are able to code, it makes it easier to run websites or update your content and always have it up and running 24/7. If you are able to code, you can go ahead and write your code or embed your video or text and do whatever you need to do as opposed to sending in your written story and having someone else approve it, then they have to code and embed it and all that stuff. You actually save time and you get content updated all the time for users to consume.”
Raven Ambers, an undergraduate journalism student at the University of Central Arkansas found code writing to be slightly daunting when first learning it during an internship. However, she quickly found the skill invaluable.
“At first, when you look at code writing and it’s completely foreign to you, it can be overwhelming,” Ambers says. “I worked primarily through HTML and what I found was that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. A lot of [HTML] code writing is repetitive. So I found it easy to pick up after I worked with it for a little bit.”
When asked how this skill will better prepare students for a career in journalism, Ambers says, “It’s a ‘backpack journalism’ skill. Being able to code write is just another thing to be able to put in that backpack. It’s important that journalists implement these skills in their work so [companies] are not hiring two people to do a job that one person can do.”
While many new journalists are discovering code writing in classrooms, a number of onlinetutorial websites including popular ones such as Lynda.com and Ledet.com can be quite beneficial to journalists already well into their careers. Wherever journalists choose to learn, the message is clear: Code is the language of the future in Journalism.