Dispatches from the living amongst journalism's walking dead

Tag: newsroom

What job is best for journalism right now?

So I’ve been going through something of a journalistic identity crisis lately that’s put me in a real malaise about the industry at large and my own career. So if you’ll let me get a little personal for a post, I could use some help crafting a useful new job that could help my newsroom – and help my future a little bit too.

After seeing just about every low point of staff morale and picking up more tasks seemingly every day – I’m not really sure how to describe what I do anymore or see what could possibly come next in my career path. (I used to have a plan – but it’s pretty much moot now.)

I have my annual review coming up at work and I hope to craft a new job description for myself.  Problem is, I’m no longer sure what I’m best suited for or what skills might be most useful for my newspaper or any other media organization.

Right now, my business cards still say Social Media Editor. While I like keeping the title so it sounds like I have a really innovative and cool job, my paper really can’t afford to have a position like that of, say, Robert Quigley in Austin. (After reading about the cool stuff he gets to do all day seemingly without any day-to-day news constraints, I wonder what paper can.)

So here’s what I’d like to know from you:

What kind of non-reporting journalist would most benefit you as a news consumer? What would you like to see a local news outlet do differently (that could realistically be achieved by one person)?

If you work in journalism, what skills are missing from your organization? What kind of online position would help the newsroom at large?

Who got a say in WaPo’s social media policy?

Even aside from the Washington Post’s social media policy itself, the method of its distribution and construction is cause for concern.

As Steve Buttry notes, the organization shouldn’t have started with a closed policy decree, it should have started with internal conversations with staff about social media. The senior editor has been working on the policy without input from the newsroom or digital staff since May – and only told them about it the same day it was released.

Was there any talk with tenured Twitterati about the benefits they have of using Twitter in sourcing and story development? Did anyone consult with the ombudsman about the possibilities of using social media to address reader complaints and questions? Did anyone in the WaPo newsroom ever even get training or guidance of any kind on this issue in the months preceding the policy’s release? It doesn’t seem like it.

At my paper, The Cincinnati Enquirer, we have been lucky enough to have several open staff conversations about social media ethics and legalities. Our lawyer even came in for a session on the legal implications of using the likes of Twitter and Facebook, which was a huge help for those of us who train staffers in using the technology (yeah, that’s right, we have training).  Our editor is very open about his feelings on the technology (he’s in love with it) and encourages its use amongst reporters. We don’t have a policy, per se, but at least everyone talks about it.

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