How infusing analytics into journalism programs is improving future workforce skills

How infusing analytics into journalism programs is improving future workforce skills

Liberal arts students have a long history of math and statistics aversion — and many do not consider themselves naturally talented in these disciplines. But as social media and the ability to peer into troves of data emanating from many different sources become more the order of the day in fields like journalism, marketing, and advertising, college grads are finding themselves competing in job markets where employers want analytics skills.
 
 “The first thing I hear from students when they get exposed to analytics is that they’re not good in math, but I tell them, that’s not true,” said associate professor Heather Shoenberger, who is in charge of the Insight and Analytics Lab at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.
 
 Shoenberger’s class primarily focuses on the fundamentals of advertising.
 
 “The students who enroll in these classes are great at creative thinking and at understanding the types of roles in advertising that might be available, but they lack skills in evaluating consumers and in understanding what it is that consumers want,” she said.
 
 Acquiring an understanding of consumer behavior and preferences that enables students to target their ads better, requires work in analytics, big data and statistical analysis.
 
 The University of Oregon entered into partnerships last year with Alteryx, comScore and Shareablee to provide students with data and self-service analytics tools and data. “This venture lets us offer our students vital tools that will prepare them for the rapidly changing job market, and it produces research that will inform the future of advertising and journalism,” said Shoenberger.
 
 In one class project, students worked on creating an advertising buy for selling console games on TV.
 
 “By using data from live TV, the students wanted to create a campaign that would reach the most console game users,” said Shoenberger.

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