What’s a journalist’s most important skill?

A group of foundations that fund journalism education recently issued a challenge to America’s journalism schools. They want the schools to adopt a teaching-hospital model that “requires top professionals in residence at universities. It also focuses on applied research, as scholars help practitioners invent viable forms of digital news that communities need. …”

An open letter from the foundations suggests that the schools have not been adapting quickly enough to the changing world of digital communication. Kerri’s guests at 11:30 a.m. today include one of the letter’s authors. Here’s a quote:

We believe journalism and communications schools must be willing to recreate themselves if they are to succeed in playing their vital roles as news creators and innovators. Some leading schools are doing this but most are not. … We are calling on university presidents and provosts to join us in supporting the reform of journalism and mass communication education. …

Schools that do not update their curriculum and upgrade their faculties to reflect the profoundly different digital age of communication will find it difficult to raise money from foundations interested in the future of news. The same message applies to administrators who acquiesce to regional accrediting agencies that want terminal degrees as teaching credentials with little regard to competence as the primary concern.

The letter’s focus is on technical skills and strategy. It runs more than 450 words, but the word “ethics” is not among them.

What do you think? What’s the most important skill, or set of skills, that a journalist should have? Comment here, and listen at 11:30.