The jour­nalism field is changing. The tools and skills reporters need to tell a good story are no longer lim­ited to a note­book, pen, and the ability to ask the right ques­tions. Today skills such as coding and videog­raphy are essen­tial to sharing news with the public—and keeping readers engaged.

To help working jour­nal­ists learn those 21st-​​century skills, Jeff Howe, an assis­tant pro­fessor of jour­nalism in the Col­lege of Arts, Media, and Design at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, has devel­oped a media inno­va­tion track in the grad­uate jour­nalism program.

Ear­lier this month, the program’s new track received a $250,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foun­da­tion, a non­profit orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to sup­porting trans­for­ma­tional ideas that pro­mote quality jour­nalism, advance media inno­va­tion, engage com­mu­ni­ties, and foster the arts.

I believe this is by far the best time to be a jour­nalist,” Howe said. “It’s a really awe­some time to tell true sto­ries, but you have to have extra skills.”

According to Howe, those skills include coding, infor­ma­tion visu­al­iza­tion, videog­raphy, data­base man­age­ment, and game design—all of which are part of the media inno­va­tion track.

The pilot pro­gram will start this fall with four to six stu­dents; depending on results, it could grow to as many as 20 stu­dents by the 2015–16 aca­d­emic year.

One of the program’s inau­gural stu­dents is Stephen Daly, AS’88, asso­ciate director of com­mu­ni­ca­tions in Northeastern’s Office of Alumni Rela­tions. Daly, who worked for news­pa­pers in New Hamp­shire for more than 20 years, said the new pro­gram gives vet­eran jour­nal­ists the chance to stay rel­e­vant in an ever-​​changing profession.

As a sea­soned jour­nalist this is just an oppor­tu­nity to remain rel­e­vant and acquire some skills that will make help me advance in what I do,” Daly said, adding that he is most looking for­ward to learning how to code web pages. “This grad­uate pro­gram is taking it to another level and will help people who have already estab­lished them­selves in the industry standout even more.”

Howe began devel­oping this pro­gram when he joined the North­eastern fac­ulty about three years ago. “You are moti­vated to give stu­dents here the very best edu­ca­tion you pos­sibly can,” he explained. “Then you have to keep an eye on how jour­nalism is changing and how edu­ca­tion needs to change as well.”

In Howe’s view, Northeastern’s media inno­va­tion pro­gram stands alone in its com­mit­ment to inter­dis­ci­pli­nary edu­ca­tion; instead instead of jour­nalism pro­fes­sors, he’s tasked pro­fes­sors in other dis­ci­plines such as com­puter sci­ence and the arts to teach stu­dents the skills they’ll need for to suc­ceed in the dig­ital age.

But Howe also noted that this track is designed to enhance—rather than replace—a tra­di­tional jour­nalism edu­ca­tion. “I would never sug­gest the inno­va­tion pro­gram should exist in lieu of more tra­di­tional pro­grams,” he said. “It is a great way to boot­strap a jour­nalism career.”