editor on the verge

Online musings from the newsroom and beyond . . . by Yoni Greenbaum

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Help Wanted: Totally out of touch reporter

November 27th, 2007 · 5 Comments

Help WantedI’ve been thinking recently about the skills we expect from new reporters.

If you peruse help-wanted ads for newspaper reporters on JournalismJobs.com, you find description of required skills such as:

“The ability to write fast, in a concise, effective manner, is another key qualification for this position.”

“Computer-assisted reporting skills are helpful, with the ability to comb through campaign finance reports and various public databases in search of stories.”

“Typing, computer and Internet skills.”

Keep going and you’ll see generally the same requirements repeated in ad after ad, just phrased differently.

But is this all we really expect from the reporters we hire? Are we getting to the point that the old requirements no longer are enough?

Maybe we now want reporters who read blogs, watch and produce their own online videos, use SMS, know what RSS is, or what OPML stands for.

I’m thinking that to build the newsroom of the future, we’re likely going to have to expect more then what we did from reporters of the past.

I recall, as an editor at a local daily newspaper, being frustrated to learn that new reporters didn’t own a TV or didn’t have a clue about popular culture — how could they cover a local beat if their baseline is National Public Radio and the Economist?

What would your ideal help wanted reporter advertisement look like? What skills would you like to see?

Tags: Industry · Local Newspapers

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 tad // Nov 27, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    hey! what’s wrong with the Economist and NPR!!? Don’t discriminate against us intellectuals who actually read poetry and step outside our homes to see Opera!

  • 2 Pat Thornton // Nov 29, 2007 at 5:59 pm

    I must confess that I am a big fan of The Economist.

    But my ideal reporting would at least understand the world around him or her. This person would be apart of the online world. Too many journalists pride themselves on being technophones.

    That’s the last person I’d want to hire. Journalism is going online, and we need people who understand and consume technology.

    What kind of job has to list “typing and Internet skills?” I’d want people with specific skills and an appreciation for online. But that’s just me, because I want competent journalists.

  • 3 Hart Van Denburg // Dec 1, 2007 at 9:29 am

    Interesting post. I’d want a potential hires to demonstrate, both through portfolios and long-standing blogs or Web sites, that they are plugged in and **participating** in their communities. They ought to be able to show how they can both stand out from, and at the same time fit in to the organization. Robert Picard wrote last year that, “Average journalists share the same skills sets and the same 56 approaches to stories, seek out the same sources, ask similar questions, and produce relatively similar stories. Few journalists encounter skills-related problems changing from one news organization to another and the average journalist is easily replaced by another. … Across the news industry, processes and procedures for news gathering are guided by standardized news values, producing standardized stories in standardized formats that are presented in standardized styles. The result is extraordinary sameness and minimal differentiation.” My comments on his research here: http://hartupnorth.com/2007/03/26/picard-sameness/

  • 4 Hart Van Denburg // Dec 1, 2007 at 10:02 am

    The Up North Daily Record is seeking a reporter to join its award-winning metro staff. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated at least five years of excellence in reporting and producing stories in text, audio and video formats for a multi-platform news organization proud of the awards on its newsroom wall, as well as its growing, loyal audience. We want someone who can show us a stunning collection of clips. We want to see someone with a working knowledge of Jack Kerouac, William Shakespeare, Cormac McCarthy, Matt Groening, Miles Davis, Ben Harper and Yo Yo Ma. We want to see a personal homepage or blog that proves an understanding of — and connection to — your community through the deployment of social media tools, and the participation of your audience in what you post. Oh, and awards are nice too, as is a working knowledge of industry-standard text, audio, photo, video and content management software. Only wise, curious, passionate, literate and indefatigable candidates need apply.

    What else?

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