Journalists partner up with other professions to make difference in their communities.

By Thokozani Dladla

Journalism schools are partnering with media companies and health professionals to bring change to their communities. Syed Nazakat, Professor at University of Toronto; Marty Steffens, Professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and Robert Steiner CEO and Editor-In-Chief at DataLEADS, shared their insights on the benefits of these relationships.  

The University of Missouri School of Journalism has partnered with Washington Post, Polifact, Apple and Missouri Press Association, Google and several others to give their students a hands-on experience.

Steffens describes these relationships as “mutually beneficial”.

“Google staff  come to our school once a year to offer media-search advanced training,” she adds.

Steiner, on other hand, is turning health professionals into reporters by partnering with medical doctors. He trains them to report on their fields of expertise. And these new “health reporters” are getting awards even though they have never studied journalism.

Nazakat says that after finding out that more than 2.6 million people die in India because of air pollution, he knew he had to do something.The first step he took was to establish a partnership with the health sector.

Nazakat sees the health professionals he works with as reporters with a clear understanding of the diseases as well as how to interpret health reports. He is convinced this makes their reporting different from that of journalists.

With these ongoing collaborations between journalists and professionals, journalism students are raising concerns about job security in the industry.

But journalism fundis believe journalism will continue to be the official mouthpiece and channel through which society informs and is being informed. The new “health reporters”  are simply contributing to journalism by adding their expertise. They claim that as long as journalists use the skills they learnt at journalism schools, they should not fear their jobs are on the line.