Attitude Trumps Learning: Cheerful Worker with a Desire to Learn

Enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn. Those were the main desires from magazine editors to candidates in a study made by american Carolyn Lepre and Glen L. Bleske.

In contrast, making a portfolio and knowing media theory were on the top of the list of journalism educators.

Attitude trumps learning

It is no wonder that the authors concluded there was little common ground for magazine editors and professors surveyed on journalism curriculum.

Personality Matters

While the educators did not comment on the personality of the students, the editors did. Especially, the editors wanted critical thinkers with a humble attitude. As one editor put it:

“Too many graduates, smart as they obviously are, betray an attitude that says they have nothing to learn. Eagerness cannot be undervalued in a candidate.”

Not surprisingly – and backed up by much other research – basic skills such as writing, proofreading and editing are highly valued by both educators and editors.

Skills Wanted

A well-rounded education can prepare candidates for starting in the job. But the essential of journalism is learned on the job, magazine editors think.

Here is a list of the top 5 important and least important skills.


The authors conclude suggest that educators should focus on encouraging behaviour and attitude “such as enthusiasm, willingness to learn new things and take direction, passion for learning, creativity, confidence, self-motivation, and a solid work ethic.”

Skills vs. Personality

Even though this study is from 2005, the view on skills vs. personality is a refreshing and unorthodox one. So far, I haven’t found other articles that look into behaviour and attitude rather than competences and skills.

Whether attitude always trumps learning – or whether a good attitude also fosters better learning – is not discussed in the article. It would be interesting to see those two concepts unfolded.

The article was printed in June 2005 in Journalism & Mass Communication Educator and it is available for purchase here.