By: Debra Gersh
MORE TRAINING COULD not only help journalists be better prepared when writing stories but could help improve newsroom morale and overall newspaper quality, according to a study.
The study found, however, that far less training is being provided than journalists say they want.
According to “No Train, No Gain: Continuing Education in Newspaper Newsrooms,” 80% of respondents said they would participate in in-house training programs offered from two to 12 times a year, while 81% would take part in outside seminars with the same regularity.
Among those surveyed, 38% said their newspapers offer no in-house training, and outside programs are not available to 31%.
The report is the first part of the Freedom Forum’s National Project on Newsroom Staff Development for the 1990s. The survey of 650 weekly and daily newspaper employees was conducted by the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research.
With 42% of the respondents saying they sometimes feel ill-equipped to develop a story completely, the report concluded that professional training could improve the quality of the news report, as well as boosting morale and stemming turnover.
Ethics topped the list of subjects respondents would like to see taught. Other topics included computer-assisted reporting and issues of race, gender and the environment.
The most likely time for training, when starting a new job, was the time few respondents received more than an employee handbook and a desk.
The report found that, while two-thirds of respondents wanted more training when they were hired, 13% received none and 70% were given only a company handbook or policy statement.
The situation worsened as respondents moved to new jobs, where 60% received some help, and 25% got no training.
The report concluded that a number of causes of dissatisfaction with the profession can be linked to training ? such as lack of promotion, flexibility, a better newspaper and recognition ? but said training is merely a means, not an end.
While only 3% of respondents said more training alone would keep them in the business, lack of training is a factor in dissatisfaction with things such as promotions, salaries, and the quality of the newspaper.