As the news industry evolves alongside technological advancements, students in the UNM Communication and Journalism department are honing their multimedia and mobile reporting skills to meet the demands of future employers.
Kate Nash Cunningham, a distinguished print journalist and UNM professor, said journalists must have the ability to portray a story on multiple platforms.
“It used to be in journalism that students would go and write for the newspaper, and that was it,” she said. “You would go to the City Council, write the story, file it and go home. Now, a student who is working for a news organization or writing for their own blog, not only are they writing a story for deadline, they are going to be live tweeting, taking photos, sending video and audio.”
Cunningham said professors need to think in a “broad way” about the skills that students need to have for the job requirements they are going to have to meet.
She said her love for teaching started when she became the writing coach for the Daily Lobo.
“I really got jazzed by showing students how to do stories and showing them what multimedia elements they can add,” she said.
Cunningham said she saw a need for preparing her students to utilize social media and other online and digital elements, adding that professors need to consider technological advancements like 360-degree video, a tool journalists will potentially be using in the future.
The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications requires university journalism programs to meet “professional expectations of digital, technological and multimedia competencies.”
According to the council’s website, their mission is to “assure students, parents, journalism and mass communications professionals and the public that accredited programs meet rigorous standards for professional education.”
UNM’s Journalism and Mass Communication department has been accredited by the council.
To help students meet professional expectations, Cunningham partnered with Fresco News to keep students updated with recent developments in the industry.
She connected with the organization at the Online News Association Conference in Los Angeles, California last September and her classes will be the first in the country to utilize the online application, she said.
Fresco News partners with TV news stations to send assignments to citizen journalists to provide videos of events the station cannot cover, and a user is paid if their content is picked up by a news station.
Cunningham said it represents a change in the TV news industry, predicting that user-generated content will be increasingly utilized in the future.
“You don’t need the big video cameras of days past,” she said. “You’ve pretty much got what you need in your pocket.”
Fresco was an opportunity for Cunningham’s students to try new technology and “get in the pipeline as journalists.”
Alissiea Hernandez, a junior at UNM, aspires to be a broadcast journalist in local television and said the evolving industry increases access to information, further connecting journalists with their audience.
Hernandez is concerned that rapid changes could further hinder the print and radio news industries, adding that she feels UNM has provided her with multimedia skills.
However, Hernandez thinks the broadcast elements are lacking, pointing to the Advanced Broadcast Class that was recently cut due to funding.
Hernandez said she also wishes the department would use its broadcast television studio. She plans to utilize Cunningham’s partnership with Fresco to gain vital experience that is required by TV news organizations.
“Kate does an awesome job at preparing students for what to expect,” Hernandez said. “With this partnership with Fresco, we are allowed the opportunity to not only connect with big time commercial networks to get hands-on experience, but we are practicing the required skillset as students.”
Andres Del Aguila is a news reporter at the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Andres_DA95.