A modern journalists’ job description?

Tomorrow I’m doing a talk at Bournemouth University to their journalism students. I’ve been kindly invited along by senior lecturer, Phil MacGregor, who has asked me to talk about jobs and getting going.

One of the things I’ve put together for the talk is a hypothetical job description (below) of the skills that a journalist now may require over the next few years. It’s not sector specific and I’ve tried to keep away from mentioning any software. I am trying to highlight that old skills as well as new ones are needed and the aim is not to create a slightly cynical description, which could so easily be done, eg. “applicants are expected to produce 10 articles a day without reference to a press release”. I’d be interested in any additions or deletions from readers.

Adaptable and enthusiastic journalist with an eye for detail, strong sense of passion and in-depth knowledge of their subject. Good core research, investigative copy writing/broadcasting/editing, skills with an enthusiasm for learning essential. Comfortable networking and talking to others (including on the phone). Due to fewer sub-editors all applicants are expected to have excellent written English.

To survive, a knowledge and awareness of marketing and business will be considered very useful.

Must be able to work by themselves or as part of a team. Good photographic, online video/audio recording skills a must, with the ability to put them up online quickly to deadline.

An eye for innovation and willingness to experiment without fear of failure, crucial.

Applicants without existing online journalism experience and body of work need not apply.

PS. An understanding of SEO, social media, website analytics, business models and mobile technologies will also come in handy.

PPS. The ability to understand and analyse data and how data is structured also useful to have as a back-pocket-skill. Cf. MPs Expenses Scandal 2009.

@ianbetteridge says: @kcorrick You can sum that up as 3 steps: “1. Find out stuff no one else knows. 2. Publish it. 3. Profit!?!”

Online journalism and the law

I’m currently preparing for a course I’m teaching in December entitled ‘Legal issues and social media‘. Today I came across this excellent presentation by Paul Bradshaw, senior lecturer in online journalism at Birmingham City University, that he gave earlier this week to his MA Online Journalism students.

The slides go through the main areas of law affecting publishing on the web as well as giving defences for each section of the law. All of which are relevant to anyone who is publishing regular content or encouraging user generated content on their website or a site which is under their jurisdiction – not just journalists and bloggers.

ONA live blogging: Tina Brown keynote

A journey from old media to new:

“I’ve had the priviledge of working on a wide variety of media, but working on the Daily Beast is a real high for me, and has been a great blast.

“I’ve felt assailed every minute by new things to learn. What the hell are these terms – wire frames? I’ve found new contradictions, it’s intoxicating, the wait between holding on to our scoops are over. On the web I’m more boxed in though from a layout point of view I’m less free, but I’m learning how to be experimental, in finding new voices.

Also what would the web have looked like if we’What would WilliamBlake.com or GeorgreOrwell.co.uk have looked like

Raw news can flash onto our screens without the filter.

Unmediated voices are extremely thrilling and finding them is very satisfactory.

But what of the consumer? There is a cachophony of voices. There are unsettling sides too. What Nick Davis has called Churnalism. The same few facts recycled over and over. The ever increasing want for copy, for immediate filing. People too busy filing to actuall see the real piece of news. People feel secretly out of the loop. Some have stopped reading altogether and rely on comedy programmes last thing at night.

Who can consumers trust?

There is a real incideous side to the web.

What do we as journalists have to do?
Think about what editors can do. They need to curate the news in a more rigourous way. Examples of sites that are doing that: FirstPost, Huffington Post, Real Clear Politicts, Arts & Letters Daily. But there is still room for more.

Evolution of a publication is now possible at great speed – fruit fly speed. This allows editors to be more creative than ever before. Online liberates, it supports freedom of thought, freedom of expression.

The first duty of the journalist: arouse interest.


UPDATE: Alf Hermida on the speech.