Humboldt State University Library

For The

The Professional Journalist of the New Millennium

Today's professional journalist is challenged with the need to possess a multitude of competencies. Traditional performance characteristics such as strong writing and oral skills, diligent work habits, and a broad knowledge base combined with cross disciplinary applications in print, broadcast, interactive and multimedia formats demand greater attention to the information competencies of both journalism students as well as industry professionals.

The following competencies have been identified as critical to the journalism profession by both journalism educators and industry professionals. Links have been provided to help facilitate and promote the development of these competencies while also encouraging further exploration.

The Ten Competencies

Writing Competencies
Oral Performance Competencies
Research and Investigative Competencies
Broad-Based Competencies
Web-Based Competencies
AudioVisual Competencies
Skill-Based Computer Application Competencies
Ethics Competencies
Legal Competencies
Career Competencies

Writing Competencies are routinely identified as critical to the accuracy, clarity, credibility, and reliability of a story. Attention must be given to the technical skills of writing as well as the intended audience and format. Stories written for a newspaper in the United States requires a different approach when placed on the Web for a more international audience.

Useful Links
Copy Editor: Words on Words (
A Guide to Writing Related Internet Sites (
Links for Copy Editors (
My Virtual Reference Desk: Grammar, Usage & Style (
NYT Writing the Lead (
Poynter Bibliography: Online & Print Writing and Editing (
Purdue's Online Writing Lab (

Oral Performance Competencies are critical to promoting understanding, eliciting meaningful responses, and establishing confidence and trust. Interview skills should be developed to explore the appropriate techniques and methods to be utilized when interviewing children, ethnic groups, trauma victims, etc. The nuances of public speaking should also be addressed.

Useful Links
NPR: Pronunciation, Usage, and Grammar (
NYT Interviewing Techniques (
Poynter Bibliography: Interviewing (

Research and Investigative Competencies must be honed to prepare a well developed, accurate story or to identify potential topics.

Useful Links
Covering Crime and Justice (
Crime Statistics Link Guide (
Electronic Searching (
FACSNET: Improving Journalism through Education (
Finding, Tracing & Investigating People (http://www.people.vcu/edu/~jcsouth/hotlists/investig.html)
Government Resources on the Web (
JournalismNet (
NewJour: Electronic Journals and Newsletters (
News from Omnivore (
My Virtual Reference Desk (
Power Reporting: Resources for Journalists (
Price's List of Lists (
The Seven Steps of the Research Process (
U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (
U-Wire: Source for Campus News (

Broad-based Knowledge Competencies include the need for a basic knowledge of the fundamentals of economics, statistics, mathematics, history, science, health care, business, and governmental structure is critical for entry-level professionals. Once practicing it is the responsibility of the professional to continue lifelong learning and further expansion of the existing knowledge base.

Useful Links
Ethnic Studies (
Galaxy: The Professional'’s Guide to the World of The Professional's Guide to Health Economics, Medical and Pharmacy Resources (
How Our Laws are Made (
International Studies (
Research Guides & Library Handouts (Humboldt) (
Subject Resources (Binghamton) (

Web-Based Competencies are no longer optional. Proficient use of the Internet, email, mailing lists, newsgroups, and the ability to provide news in an on-demand format have become increasingly important in today's society. These competencies are mandatory for professionals to remain in the lead of breaking news and information. It is critical, however, that professionals also be able to judge the authenticity, accuracy, and reliability of the plethora of information available on the Web.

Useful Links
Beginner's Guide to HTML (
Corryn's’ Internet Search Tools (
Digital Literacy Closet (
HTML Sizzling Jalfrezi Guide to Writing Web Pages (
Internet Search Tutorials (http://www.people.vcu/edu/~jcsouth/netsrch/searchtips.html)
Listservs in the Professions (
Majordomo Mailing Lists (
NYT Navigator (
TILE.NET/LISTS: The Reference to Internet Discussion and Information Lists (
Tutorials to Improve Webmastery Skills (
Using the Internet (

Audio Visual Competencies at a minimal level need to be encouraged and developed.

Useful Links
B Roll Online: The Television News Photography Website (
Photojournalism Resources (

Skill-Based Computer Application Competencies will be necessary in creating stories. Word processing, database development (especially useful for investigative reports), and multimedia applications, including Pagemaker, Quark XPress, and Printshop, etc. will enhance the journalist's workflow as well as the final story.

Useful Links
Excel Help Pages (
Help on the Net (
How to Get Started Using Power Point (
Learning How to Create Webpages (
Microsoft Excel Tutorial (
Pagemaker Tutorials (
Powerpoint Tutorial (
Scanner Tutorial (
Shareware & Freeware Sites (

Ethics Competencies continue to be a concern to the profession and are discussed at length in various forums.

Useful Links
Codes of Ethics Online: Media (
Ethics Case Studies Online (
Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (
Journal of Mass Media Ethics (
NPR: News Code of Ethics and Practices (
Society of Professional Journalists: Ethics in Journalism (
Using Information Ethically (
Web Resources for Studying Journalism Ethics (

Legal Competencies include the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the First Amendment, and copyright issues.  Familiarity with these issues and their impact on the profession and society are critical to the profession.

Useful Links
American Civil Liberties Union (
Brechner Center for Freedom of Information (
Committee to Protect Journalists (
Copyright Resources on the Web (
Electronic Frontier Foundation (
Freedom Forum Online: First Amendment (
Freedom of Information Clearinghouse (
Freedom of Information Resources (
Reporter's Committee for Freedom of the Press (
Student Press Law Center (

Career Competencies will remain an important feature throughout the career of a journalism professional. Useful links with valuable information are available for help in finding an internship or for guidance in resume development for that next professional move. Work place skills include everything from time-management and diligent work habits to teamwork and maintaining a positive attitude. Other career aspects may include managerial components such as market and audience analysis, running an assignment desk, producing and editing. Professional Networking as with any profession, is critical to staying abreast of the current trends, issues, and recognizing "who’s who.

Useful Links

American Copy Editors Society (
American Journalism Review JobLink (
American Journalism Review: Newslink - Journalism Organizations (
Broadcast Education Association (
How-To for Electronic Resumes (
Investigative Reporters and Editors (
Journalism Job Bank (
Landing an Internship (
National Diversity Newspaper Job Bank (
National Press Photographers Association (
Resume Writing Tips for Journalists (

Send comments and suggestions about this page to: Kitty Yancheff
Last Updated: October 10, 2005