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Earlier this month, Columbia University announced that the first ever journalism and computer science degree will launch in the autumn of 2011. Perhaps it’s a positive reaction to all the technological uncertainty that journalists face, but some perspective is also needed.
Ever since I’ve been involved with the ideas of online/digital/data (delete as appropriate) journalism – I’ve been using the metaphor of Batman’s utility belt as a way of thinking about a journalist’s skillet and how it can evolve over time. Rather than a rucksack full of tools, the Caped Crusader was able to easily change items in and out of his belt pouches to solve the issue at hand. The constant debates about the skills required to operate in a mediasphere that has rapidly change and will continue to do so for some time to come (unless the departures of Simon Waldman and Will Lewis should have all of us involved in paid journalism worried) have brought me back to this idea.
There's no doubt that the number of traditional journalism jobs is shrinking, and shrinking fast. I struggle to think of a single publishing company that hasn't had layoffs or title closures in the last few years. There is, suggests David Meerman Scott of the WebInkNow blog , an alternative:
I blogged yesterday about the growing debate about whether journalists need to be able to write computer programs .