As traditional journalism struggles to survive, online journalism is expanding and thriving through social media, mass communication, and free online coverage. With global instability, economic crisis, and political turmoil, there is no shortage of source material for journalists to get their hands on.
Though many working journalists don’t necessarily have formal journalism training, completing journalism courses can prove very useful for gaining hard journalism skills. Learning the basic principles of ethics in journalism, interviewing skills, and research can help aspiring writers become published journalists.
You may be interested in learning more about journalism and journalistic writing, but you might not be ready to pursue a formal degree or certificate. Thankfully, many schools and institutes offer individual courses to help you get started in the field. That’s why we created the guide below on where to find journalism courses online.
Read on to learn about journalism course offerings through MOOCs (massive open online courses), journalism institutes, and even top universities. These courses include mass media and journalism, breaking news, investigative reporting, multimedia journalism, and more.
Who Can Take Journalism Courses?
The short answer is anyone who wants to take an open online journalism course online can enroll in one. Whether or not you should take the time, and allocate the energy and resources, to take a journalism course is another question. Do you want to learn how to be a journalist? Do you have specific interests and ideas about the kind of journalist you would like to be?
If you are thinking about making a career change, consider that you may be at an advantage. If you are a subject-matter expert in something else, like law, education, or politics, you may be able to apply that expertise to your work as a journalist.
Taking a high-quality online journalism course would give you the learning experience you need to apply your knowledge to new skills and pursue your career change. After taking some of these journalism courses, you may even consider pursuing an online degree in the field.
Let’s take a look at some of the kinds of journalism classes you can take online, offered by several different course platforms and universities.
English for Journalism
Some journalism classes are more focused on the actual craft of writing. If you are interested in studying English and writing for journalism, there are plenty of courses that focus on this.
This is especially the case if you do not speak English as your first language and want to pursue journalism in the US or other English-speaking countries. That said, most international news outlets, like BBC World and Al Jazeera, are in English as well.
Coursera and the University of Pennsylvania offer a class called just that, “English for Journalism.” The course’s main goal is to provide students with the English language and writing tools they need to succeed in the field of modern journalism. This means not only working on their written English for traditional journalism but also social media and other digital formats.
EdX, Harvard and MIT’s joint project and platform that offers MOOCs to people all over the world, also offers two English for journalism courses. The University of California at Berkeley offers the module in two parts.
In Part 1, students can expect to learn issues that journalists face on a global scale, all while improving English grammar, vocabulary, and writing skills. Part 2 is intended for students who already have a basic understanding and interest in journalism and are looking to improve their English proficiency through the study of journalism.
What is citizen journalism, you might ask? Citizen journalism, also known as participatory, democratic, and guerilla journalism, is the idea that regular citizens (non-journalists) should participate in the journalistic process.
In other words, they should participate in the collection and dissemination of source material, like photos, video, audio recording, etc. According to the Poynter Institute, a major national journalism organization, citizen journalism is changing the way journalists do their jobs, especially with social media.
EdX also offers a course in citizen journalism in its catalog. The course, “Activism and Citizen Journalism through Media,” is offered in conjunction with Wits University, also known as the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. It is intended for activists and community organizers who want to get involved in telling stories that they see in their work.
By the end of the course, students should understand how to and be able to identify a story, pitch it, and report it as a citizen journalist.
The Knight Center offers a few self-paced online classes that anyone can take. The materials are available for anyone to access as they take the class, on their own time.
The university offers a data journalism class called “Equity and ethics in data journalism: hands-on approaches to getting your data right.” The course is meant to give budding journalists tools to use data ethically and to teach them to embed equity and ethics in data journalism stories.
Coursera and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign also offer a course called “Visualization for Data Journalism.” The class is meant to explore how data is presented visually in order to accurately and effectively communicate data. The course requires that students have basic coding skills and an understanding of Python.
Investigative journalism is also a very exciting and up-and-coming thread of journalism. Though it’s certainly not new, classic twentieth-century national scandals like Watergate would not have broken without the investigative prowess of newspapers like The Washington Post, investigative journalism seems to be hitting a second peak in the age of social media. With social media content on the rise, many investigative journalists get many of their tips and sources through social media networking.
Journalists working on investigative articles often take months or even years to complete their projects, depending on the scope and the difficulty of their investigation. It’s an extremely interesting and exciting area of journalism that contributes so much to our world. Without investigative journalists, politicians, corporations, and others who have committed serious wrongdoing would never be held accountable.
The Knight Center at the University of Texas at Austin offers an investigative course that focuses specifically on digital journalism. The course, “Digital Investigations for Journalists: How to Follow the Digital trail of People and Entities,” is meant to help journalists investigate and understand the people and entities behind certain digital sources, especially social media accounts.
News University at the Poynter Institute
Again, the Poynter Institute is a non-profit journalism school and research institute that works to educate established and aspiring journalists as well as citizens in general. Its online course offshoot, News University, offers an impressive catalog of over 100 different courses. The catalog’s subcategories include important core skills like investigative journalism, reporting, ethics and trust, leadership, visual journalism, fact-checking, editing, and diversity.
While some Poynter courses require an application and cost a flat fee, others are open to all and absolutely free. It just depends on the course and the subject matter. For example, Poynter offers journalism MOOCs for free to help educate news consumers and voters.
Poynter’s internal media education institute, MediaWise, offers courses for both high school students and seniors to become more critical media consumers. A course currently being offered for seniors online is called “MediaWise for Seniors: Live Fact-Checking Seminar.”
The course teaches seniors to sort fact from fiction and improve their overall media literacy and ability to make their own discerning, educated decisions that are based on consuming high-quality journalism.
The Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas at the University of Texas at Austin is currently offering a very timely course called “Journalism in a Pandemic: covering COVID-19 now and in the future.” The course is intended to guide practicing journalists in these unprecedented times.
The course was developed in collaboration with the WHO, UNESCO, and the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) to help journalists around the world in directing and improving their coverage of the pandemic. The course is offered in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese.
Conclusion: The Future of Journalism
As we continue to forge on in our technological revolution, journalism will continue to evolve. We are learning that anyone can participate in journalism through citizen journalism and that social media and other digital tools are helping more people gain access to journalistic material.
Programs like the Google News Initiative work with journalists to drive innovation in newsrooms, train journalists in Google technology, and fund journalistic projects. It’s an exciting time to witness the ever-evolving present and possible future of journalism. What better way than to get involved by taking a few journalism courses online?