What Should Reporters Learn in Journalism School?

Olga Khazan / The Atlantic

In a recent piece, I argued that journalism students who want to be writers shouldn’t focus on immersing themselves in things like CSS and JavaScript, as I had tried to do during j-school. For responses, I got everything from “You’re so right!” (from reporters) to “What are you talking about!?” (from interactive and data journalists) to “Wait, why are y’all trying to code exactly?” (from developers who don’t work in journalism).

In the interest of being part of the solution, I thought I’d interview a few of my colleagues here at Atlantic Media who had graduated recently from journalism school to see what they wish they had learned, if not more code.* None of the colleagues I spoke with is a traditional print reporter, but among us, we do the types of writing, editing, and data analysis that many reporterly types aspire to. Here’s what we wish we had learned before becoming journalists:

  • Statistics

It’s remarkable the number of times I’ve wished I knew how to perform a regression analysis. I took some economics and statistics in college, but it was barely mentioned in j-school, even though most journalists have to analyze numbers and determine whether and how to report on them.

Jordan Weissmann, who covers business, agreed:

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