Should journalism students ditch shorthand and learn to code instead?

That was the slightly provocative question I posed in an article for the website WannabeHacks.  

“Coding is the new Latin”, says Alex Hope, the co-author of a report last year which urged the government to get British school children learning how to program.

But should coding become the new shorthand for journalism students? Most are currently required to spend hours practicing their shorthand to get up to the NCTJ-required 100 wpm. Would their time be better spent learning the basic logic of computer code?

It’s a hot debate at the moment, especially in the US, where several colleges are already offering a joint MSc in Journalism and Computer Science.  It makes sense to me because so much journalism these days relies on complex search engines and so much news is consumed on phones and tablets.  Surely new journalists should have some idea about the programming that goes into this in the same way that I had to answer questions about Ohms Law for my first radio traineeship at the BBC.

But most of the debate is amongst the academic community and experienced professionals.  I wanted to find out what new and aspiring journalists thought.  Do they want to be part of the new generation of journo-programmers?

Perhaps you’re already coding ninjas? Perhaps you think it’s a dangerous fad which will only create journalists who can’t write and computer scientists who can’t code. 

So, I’ve set up a quick survey to find out what journalism students and those just starting out think.  If you fall into that category, please take part!  If you don’t, perhaps you’d care to pass it on to someone who does.

Click here to take part in the survey.  Thank you!

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