Journalists must add mobile newsgathering to list of job skills

About two years ago, mobile newsgathering began showing up as part of the required skillset found in journalism job postings.  Now, according to a survey of jobs posted by the Top 10 newspaper and television companies in the U.S., almost one out of every five jobs mentions mobile.

Gannett recruiter Virgil Smith says employers are looking for journalists who understand the technology and what the audience wants from a mobile device.

“From a writing standpoint, there’s the importance of writing stories that are shorter and more immediately compelling,” says Smith, “but still give the reader the opportunity to go get more on a website or in a printed product.”

Smith says journalists must be ready to adjust writing and other production skills to meet the needs of an evolving mobile environment.

“The fact is that 90% of Americans have some sort of mobile device and that’s going to grow,” Smith says. “Mobile phones more will get more and more sophisticated.”

Just this month, the Society of Professional Journalists launched a mobile newsgathering training module , which is available at low-cost to newsrooms and other journalism organizations.  The module focuses on using smart phones in the newsgathering and dissemination process.

The shift to mobile consumption is already affecting the production of news content, but Smith says the fundamentals remain critically important.

“The reporting skills and values of journalism – that should not change,” Smith says. “If anything that needs to be improved. Consumers rely on professional journalists to cut through clutter, to do good writing and good editing and provide clarity and truth regardless of method of consumption.”