The Next Generation: How professors prepare future journalists for an ever-changing career

Posted at 6:36 PM, Jan 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-25 19:46:31-05

BELTON, Texas — As with many fields, journalism is an ever-changing industry. While that can keep it exciting, it can also be a bit confusing for people just starting out in their careers.

"If we're going to teach our students how to do journalism, or how to be a reporter, we're going to have to realize what that's going to look like will look different in a few years, or even a few months," Dr. Joseph Taberlet, chairman for the Department of Communication and Media Studies at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor, told 25 News.

He said during his 30 years in the field, he's had to adjust his curriculum a lot.

"A journalist has to be able to put it out in a traditional newspaper or television way," Dr. Taberlet said. "They also have to put it out there in a way that the new digital natives, who are under the age of 30 and grew up in a digital world, will be able to access it."

Tabarlet said the next generation of news consumers rely heavily on digital content to find out what's going on in their communities. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and even Tik Tok have become the primary news sources for many people. This can make finding news easy but telling it more challenging.

"The newspaper would give you in-depth reporting and you had to learn how to read it," he explained. "TV, you're a passive receiver of it and it's in short bites. Now we're talking about that that and making it even shorter. It's really a challenge because how do you say something substantive in 15 seconds?"

There have been a lot of changes to the journalism industry over the years, both in how stories are told and how they are filmed. Some media companies don't use cameras anymore because a cell phone's quality is almost just as good for a lot less.

"Most students come to college now with a camera that's better than a lot of professional equipment was 15 to 20 years ago," Taberlet said.

So how do schools prepare future journalists for a career in an ever-changing field? Dr. Tabarlet said he studies trends, makes predictions, and brings in working journalists to talk to his students about their workdays.

"As an educator, that's my job," he said. "To figure out where things are going and prepare my students for the world that, as far as I can tell, they will be living in."

Even with how fast the field can change, being a journalist is a great career choice and Tabarlet says interest in the industry shows no signs of slowing down.