Should Journalists Learn Programming?


Thanks to Mark Luckie at 10000words.net

It is a great infographic but it is also a great question, not only for journalists but for anyone who would not normally consider learning how to program as something suitable or worthwhile for them to put time and effort into.

With increasingly sophisticated interfaces which hide the guts of an operating system away from the user becoming the norm and interactions reduced to pressing and swiping a screen there is barely a need to know anything about how a given computer or smartphone really works.

So what arguments exist for taking on the additional and sometimes arduous chore of learning to program a computer?

We’ll let you answer that in the comments section.

An alternative approach would be to look at why you shouldn’t learn to program.

Well, first of all programming is hard: It can be but learning to programme can be done in small bite-size chunks. There are some fantastic manuals out there and a lot of thought has gone into how best to allow newbies get their feet wet without drowning them at the get-go.

There are so many languages where would one start?: Most programmers have a preferred language they like to work with. But I would recommend HTML. Simply because it is the one you are most likely to come across on discussion boards and blogs etc. Usually, a blank dialog box with a bunch of funny symbols along the top is a big clue that you can enter your text and be able to tidy it up or lay it out using HTML. You can learn most of the commands over a weekend and it is amazing how far you can go with it before you will feel the need for something more sophisticated.

More time at the computer: Ah, well, you have me there.

Would I be worse off if I learned a little programming know-how?: Not as facetious as it first sounds. The conventional idea that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing holds true in progamming as elsewhere. However, with even a little programming knowledge an invaluable understanding can be gleaned as to what it really takes to write good code for any kind of project.

That alone might make it worth the effort.

Personally, I never got past the “crying at the keyboard” stage.