Here, then, is a crowdsourced list of the most useful skills current journalists believe you should learn for yourself.
- Freedom of Information requests
Sites like What Do They Know offer help and advice to their users, thousands of example requests and maintain an exhaustive database of all the bodies to which FOI requests can be made. Since the Government's own FOIA page is sprawling and complicated, books like Heather Brooke's 'Your Right To Know' can also help you understand why a request has been denied and how best to appeal.
There are NCTJ-accredited textbooks available that allow you to learn in your own time, in addition to courses that provide a certificate upon completion.
@journalismnews Shorthand, shorthand, shorthand, shorthand shorthand. Not all journo courses teach it and it is a massive bonus.— Kerrie Armstrong (@KArmstrong06) July 2, 2014
- Creating video and audio stories
Advice on choosing appropriate equipment can be found on many amateur sites, and purchasing extras, like tripod stands, allows you to make notes about possible highlights or edit points while you record. Editing the recording down to an appropriate length and removing any unnecessary digressions is by far the most time-consuming part of the process, and one that you can only learn through practice.
@journalismnews Learn to record basic sound or video interview.— Andrew Hennigan (@andrewhennigan) July 2, 2014
Not every story will necessarily need a video or audio component, however. Deciding which stories would most benefit from one is another essential skill for a modern journalist.
@journalismnews Do short video stories w/ phone or other simple vid capture device + simple editing tool (eg iMovie) then post to web— Jack Rosenberry (@JackRosenberry) July 2, 2014
It is also worth learning how to quickly verify pictures and posts made on social media. This can be done by simply conducting a reverse image search or some image level analysis to prove a picture is real, through to more complicated techniques like examining geolocation and EXIF data to verify time and location of a tweet. Such checks are vital, since repeating a false story will do damage to your credibility.
@journalismnews Publishing is not just the end result - it's a crucial part of the learning process. Push work out there and evaluate.— Rob Crossley (@Rob_Crossley_) July 2, 2014
- Basic Coding
Basic knowledge of how to edit HTML and CSS means a journalist can make their story look slick and is almost always required for subbing copy online.
@journalismnews coding and digital skills beyond end-user level— Bianca Wright (@bmtwright) July 2, 2014
Beyond that, jnowledge of other advanced programming languages allow a journalist to create infographics which are very different from those created using old standards like Infogr.am Datawrapper
Codecademy is one of many free resources that can help get you started with coding.
- Content management and search engine optimisation
Many CMSes offer SEO checkers, but the knowledge of how search engines pick up and promote stories is a valuable thing to gain for yourself.
@journalismnews SEO best practice - so much of journalism ends up online, whether first published in print or not. Blogging for practice.— Sarah Lienard (@SarahLienard) July 2, 2014
This guide from MOZ is a helpful starter point.
- Statistics and Data
Interpreting the regular releases of data and creating a story from them is a skill in itself, but cleaning and organising huge spreadsheets into easily parsable segments is well within the capabilities of a modern journalist.
@journalismnews how to use statistics to make an accurate story— Anne-Marie Provost (@exovirtuelle) July 2, 2014
Statisticians seem especially keen to pass on their knowledge, so books that teach you how to interpret data aren't hard to come by.
Sometimes called web harvesting, the process involves creating a formula that grabs the relevant information from each each source you specify.
Thankfully, there are a number of free tools and guides available, like the Google Chrome app Web Scraper, this guide from School of Data, and services like Import.io.
Once you have learned the basic techniques, or how to use scraping tools like Outwit Hub, a competent scraper saves a tremendous amount of time.
- Data Visualisation
Screenshot from Ampp3d
Beyond the basics of Datawrapper, tools likeTableau Public,Quartz's Chartbuilder orRaw are hugely flexible ways of creating those immediately arresting infographics, and mapping software such asCartoDB or Google'sFusion Tables allow for the creation of striking point- and heat-maps that illustrate global inequalities.
Since each tool has a different back-end and a variety of options, it takes practice to learn how to use them all effectively and choose the most appropriate one for your data.
- Gaining and maintaining contacts
@journalismnews Networking - Already knowing someone when you apply for a job *obviously* makes you stand out, as does a good contacts book— Coral Williamson (@coralamberrr) July 2, 2014
There are regular socials organised by journalists for this express purpose, such asHacks/Hackers<, and our own Journalism.co.uk Socials, and learning to mingle and begin lasting relationships at these events is as essential as it is extra-curricular.