Howard Finberg


Howard has been in journalism for 40 years. His resume includes positions with the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and The Arizona Republic. He was the Presidential Scholar at Poynter in 2002 and joined Poynter full-time in 2003 to direct its e-learning project, News University. In 2012 he became the Institute's Director of Partnerships and Alliances. His Twitter account is @Hif


New newsroom training report shows gaps, some progress

For many journalists, this is the best of times for training. For others, it’s a missed opportunity, according to a new Poynter report.

The results of a new report “Constant Training: New Normal or Missed Opportunity?” were released today by The Poynter Institute and the Knight Foundation. Two-thirds of journalists report that they have received training the past 12 months. In addition, more than half, 56 percent, of those journalists were mostly satisfied or very satisfied with the training.

That’s a significant improvement from the 1993 “No Train, No Gain” report, published by the Freedom Forum, which revealed that only 14 percent of the journalists surveyed received regular weekly or monthly training at their newspapers. A follow-up report, “Newsroom Training: Where’s the Investment?” in 2002 painted a similar picture, with more than two-thirds of the journalists surveyed saying they “receive no regular skills training.”

However, Poynter’s 2014 survey shows that training varies wildly between newsrooms, with several reporting less than half of staff members have received training in the past year.  Read more

Modern wireless technology and social media

8 Tips for Techno-Evangelists

Modern wireless technology and social mediaJournalism and technology don’t always go together very well.

I think there’s a natural conflict between the gathering of news and information and the various means of packaging and distributing it. This conflict is especially challenging for newsroom managers. On one hand, they want to focus on the journalism; on the other, they need to stay aware of technological changes and motivate their staffs to try new digital tools.

Newsroom leaders need to be evangelists for change — and that includes technological change. They need to better understand the role of technology adoption within their organizations as the means of gathering and sharing news shifts at an increasing rate.

The rate of technology adoption is critical to the success of news organizations, which is why we are embarking on new research about the topic, starting with a survey of journalists, educators, students and others. Read more

Funny goat's portrait on a green sunny meadow background

Why newsrooms don’t embrace digital tools

Many newsrooms in the U.S. are still not taking advantage of the low-cost digital tools for gathering and distributing journalism, even when journalists and producers know about the alternatives to traditional technologies.

That’s one of the findings in a report published today by Mark Stencel, Poynter Institute digital fellow, Bill Adair, Knight chair of computational journalism at Duke University, and Prashanth Kamalakanthan, a former assistant at the Duke Reporters’ Lab.

The report, “The Goat Must Be Fed. Why digital tools are missing in most newsrooms,” is based on interviews with more than 20 editors, news directors and digital editors at newspapers, TV and radio stations. Read more

core skills report cover

Journalism needs the right skills to survive

Despite the economic imperatives facing the media industry, professional journalists lag behind educators and others in rating the importance of multimedia and other digital storytelling skills.

That finding is the result of new research from The Poynter Institute, which shows a wide divergence between professionals and educators in their thinking on the importance of core journalism skills, especially those skills that are essential for mastering new methods of gathering and delivering news and information. It is unclear whether educators are putting too much emphasis on these skills or whether professionals have a different perspective given their day-to-day work.

The Core Skills for the Future of Journalism report, released today, raises the puzzling question as to why the professionals who responded to the survey don’t rate the importance of multimedia skills in today’s visual, multiplatform media landscape as highly as educators, students and independent journalists. Read more


Letter from Poynter India’s Workshop Team

Kochi, India, Workshop Participants. March 25, 2014 — One of the nicest traditions at The Poynter Institute is the seminar photograph. This is a record of a special time with colleagues and faculty and of new friends made.

When I first thought about the idea of bringing a group of faculty members to India to conduct a series of workshops, I had that moment of self doubt that affects most of my new or innovative projects. That pesky inner voice of doubt whispered: What could we teach that would be relevant? What will the participants want from our teaching? Would we have an impact?

After three workshops and traveling more than 500 miles within India (not counting the 8,000 miles to get here), I found my answers (and doubt silencer) in a participant’s tweet:

Read more
Serious student working with a computer

Journalism schools need to adapt or risk becoming irrelevant

The scary thing about a disruption is that you don’t know where it will go.

Forty years ago, we didn’t realize the first cellphone call would lead to mobile computing and smartphones. Twenty years ago, we didn’t realize that Amazon would transform retail shopping. Ten years ago, there was no Facebook or Twitter.

You just don’t know where disruptive innovation will lead.

What we do know, however, is that the future of journalism education is at a critical point for two reasons.

1. Time is running out. Disruption, driven by economics and technology, is coming to the university system much more quickly than most administrators realize.

2. Journalism education will undergo fundamental shifts in how journalism is taught and who teaches it. Those who don’t innovate in the classroom will be left behind — just like those who chose not to innovate in the newsroom. Read more

Computer keyboard with key Learn

What e-learning can teach us about journalism

The Poynter Institute’s e-learning project, News University, is celebrating its eighth birthday today. In digital years (three times faster than analog), that makes us about 24; old enough to know better but still young enough to have lots of fun learning new things.

In the eight years since the Knight Foundation gave Poynter funding to build an e-learning site for journalists, journalism students and anyone interested in better journalism skills, we have learned a few things about effective online teaching. And we have learned that many of these lessons can apply to journalism.

Here are eight lessons from e-learning that can apply to journalism and journalists.

1. Every participant/reader is different. We started NewsU with an assumption that we would reach one type of journalist (someone early in his or her career in a newsroom) with one kind of training approach. Read more

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Rebooting journalism education means constant state of change

Geneva Overholser, director of the School of Journalism at the USC Annenberg School for Communication, has added her thoughtful voice to the “rebooting” journalism education discussion with an Online Journalism Review column.

As predicted, journalism education’s “reboot” was the hot topic at the recent Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) convention in Chicago thanks to a recent series of articles, speeches and blog and listserv postings.

Overholser outlines several areas for discussion:

  • The debate shouldn’t just be about industry vs. the academy. She urges schools to think more about the public that is also creating journalism and to think about the diversity of both the creators and audiences.
  • Universities need to build richer connections to professionals, and there needs to be more research to guide the change ahead.
Read more
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Knight report on training shows journalists want technology, multimedia, data skills

A new study by the Knight Foundation released today summarizes the state of journalism training. Some findings from “Digital Training Comes of Age“:

  • Journalists want more training in digital tools such as multimedia, data analysis and technology. Most give their news organizations low marks for providing training opportunities.
  • Digital classes are gaining popularity as a cost-effective way to reach more trainees. A third of U.S. journalists and eight in 10 international journalists say the online classes they took were as good as, or better than, conventional training in the classroom.
  • Training organizations are adapting to the digital age. They are providing more training online and rethinking how their programs can foster the transformation of journalism.

The report was authored by Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president at the Knight Foundation, and Michele McLellan, a consultant to the foundation. Read more


6 foundations tell journalism schools to change faster or risk future funding

As thousands of educators head off to Chicago for the 100th anniversary convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, I can promise that one of the most talked-about topics will be the recent open letter to university presidents signed by six foundations that have a special interest in journalism.

It was a letter that brought even more attention and focus to discussions about the future of journalism education.  At its core, the foundations want university presidents and provosts to move faster and further to change the way journalism is taught. And that was said in bold language.

We believe journalism and communications schools must be willing to recreate themselves if they are to succeed in playing their vital roles as news creators and innovators.

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