A comparative study of the educational needs of television reporters as perceived by television news directors and broadcast journalism educators



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Texas Tech University


The American democracy relies on an informed citizenry as its lifeblood. Television news continues to play a vital role in informing millions of Americans about issues and events.

The problem of this study was to compare the perceptions of commercial television news directors to those of college and university broadcast journalism professors regarding the educational needs of television reporters. The purpose of the study was to provide data which can be used to design a broadcast journalism curriculum which will meet the needs of both students majoring in the discipline and news directors who are the primary employers of broadcast journalism graduates.

Two intact population groups were surveyed in this study. A 70-item questionnaire was sent to news directors at each network affiliate television station in the U.S. (N=620). Questionnaires were also sent to broadcast journalism professors at colleges and universities which hold membership in the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (N=365). Overall response rate was 52 percent.

Data regarding educational needs and preparation of television reporters was collected in five categories: (1) skills and competencies; (2) general knowledge; (3) personal characteristics; (4) college preparation; and (5) securing a job as a television reporter. Responses were analyzed to determine similarities and differences between news directors and broadcast educators. News director responses were also analyzed by market size, age, educational background and experience as a news director.

Results of the study indicated remarkable rank order agreement between news directors and educators regarding the educational needs of television reporters. Significant differences in the responses reflected differences in the degree of importance for various items. Educators rated skills and competencies, general knowledge, college preparation and factors related to securing a job as a television reporter as significantly more important for prospective reporters than did news directors. News directors rated personal characteristics as significantly more important. Both news directors and educators recommend that prospective reporters earn an undergraduate degree with emphasis on liberal arts and broadcast journalism.

Market size is a significant factor in determining which skills and competencies are needed by television reporters. Results of the study revealed specific educational needs for television reporters as recommended by news directors.



Public opinion, Study and teaching -- Higher education, Television journalists, Broadcast journalism