Meredith Artley, Vice President and Managing Editor of CNN Digital, discusses what she’s looking for when hiring digital journalists in Nieman Lab’s series evaluating j-schools. Two of Artley’s most important insights:
1. Know the industry and have a dialogue during your interview.
The main mistake I see recent college grads make in interviews — and sometimes not-so-recent grads as well — is an expectation of a one-way conversation. I’ve seen candidates with strong resumes who haven’t appeared to have done their homework or haven’t come with their own questions. It could be anything — tell me something you like or don’t like about CNN, ask me to describe the culture of the newsroom, share an observation about a competitor. Just don’t expect a passive experience where we ask the questions, then you supply answers and wait for the next question. I’ve always seen interviews as an opportunity for a conversation, and to learn if it’s a right fit for both parties, no matter what side of the table I’m on.
2. Coding is a hot skill but know your beat too.
Skill-wise, people who have the killer journalist/coder combo have been a hot commodity for some time. But those candidates now are becoming easier to find thanks to schools evolving their programs by melding programming and journalism courses, and people who learn interactive reporting skills on the job.
It’s getting harder to find specialists in certain beats. There are generalists galore. A broad curiosity about the world is a good prerequisite for landing a job in journalism, but the resumes that show specialized interest and experience in a beat or topic are increasingly rare and precious — health, foreign affairs, science, education, religion, to name a few.
FJP: Not everyone would agree that enough journalists know how to code, though. Miranda Mulligan, executive director of Northwestern University’s Knight News Innovation Lab, encourages a re-vamping of j-school curricula.
We need to innovate our curricula, really looking at what we are teaching our students. Learning, or mastering, specific software is not properly preparing our future journalists for successful, life-long careers. No one can learn digital storytelling in a semester. Mastering Dreamweaver and Flash isn’t very future-friendly, and having a single mid-level “Online Journalism” course offered as an elective does more harm than good. We should be teaching code in all of our journalism courses — each semester, each year, until graduation.
From Advancing the Story:
“You already know that prospective employers are looking for journalists with social media skills. The Statesman-Journal in Salem, Oregon, certainly is. Executive Editor Bill Church recently advertised an opening for a “talented reporter with high digital IQ.
” If you’re talented, aggressive, responsible, innovative, socially adept, digitally awesome and perpetually energized, you’ll fit in just fine at the Statesman Journal….Submit a 200-word cover letter, 3-4 clips showing range of work, and a resume…Or impress us with your digital coolness by Tweeting your online resume link to @BillChurchMedia.”
A quick look at Church’s Twitter feed shows he’s had plenty of responses. Most of the time, he simply @replies with thanks. But not always.
Guenther’s online résumé is worth a look. What sets it apart from several others who tweeted links to Church? First off, he’s gone to the trouble of getting his own URL, which indicates a certain level of familiarity with the Web. Second, it’s clearly a résumé and not a blog. Everything you need to know about the job candidate is on one page, with embedded multimedia clips and links. There’s also a handy quick link at the top to download a PDF of the résumé for off-line reading. To create the page, Guenther used a free, do-it-yourself résumé template .”
Participate in conversations about our content, and take responsibility for the conversations you start.
Focus on the constructive by recognising and rewarding intelligent contributions.
The first two lines of the Guardian’s blogging and commenting guidelines for its journalists. Excellent, methinks.
My reading is that the Guardian’s journalists are encouraged to engage their audience but not debate and argue with them. The second line hints at “guiding” the conversation toward a constructive focus.
Via GigaOM’s Matthew Ingram, who is clearly unhappy.
He wants reporters and editors to debate with readers on issues and reveal the stories they’re working on through social media.
Is it just me or is something amiss with the Ingram school of journalism?
“Bearing witness is often a far more effective way of saving lives than helping in more direct ways,” says The New York Times’ Nicholas Kristof on the age-old question on whether journalists should drop their cameras and iPhones to help people in need.
Although each situation is unique and there are moments when journalists have to go beyond the call of duty to help someone directly, I still adhere to ethical rule that journalists should not get personally involved with their subjects.
I had a debate on Twitter not too long ago with someone not from the journalism industry (an entertainment TV show director!) who insisted that journalists should go beyond mere reportage, comparing us to - in his own words - Spiderman who has great responsibility to go along with his great powers.
My reply? Journalists are not superheroes.
Our immediate responsibility is to the news organizations that employ us. Our responsibility to our audience is to relay information to them accurately, clearly, quickly, and as objectively as possible.
Some of you may agree while some may not — arguing that media’s unique access to the hallways of power, people, places, and an audience willing to listen — allows it to be a supra-entity that knows no boundaries.
I say it again - we are not superheroes.
In the Philippine sociopolitical and economic setting, I understand why ordinary people seek journalists’ help amid the perceived failure of some government agencies to meet their needs.
I agree too with the idea that journalists need advocacies to give meaning to their chosen profession.
However, may I point out that most journalists do not have professional training in social work, criminology, or even emergency rescue.
We have mass communication and journalism as our foundation. That is our strength.
A journalist playing the role of a crimebusting cop may send an innocent man to jail. A journalist thinking of himself or herself as a savior of the poor, at best, may only promote mendicancy and dependence on charity.
A journalist as an emergency rescuer who drops his notes to try to save the life of someone in an accident? He or she may do more harm than good if he tries to move the injured man.
We are the storytellers, not the actors and actresses in the story.
Senior PR professionals have said a new website that exposes journalists recycling press releases is threatening to undermine the PR profession.
Launched last week by the Media Standards Trust, Churnalism.com invites people to paste press releases on to the site and compare the copy with more than three million articles published by national newspaper websites, the BBC or Sky News since 2008.
The site then offers a percentage score indicating how much of the release was copied and pasted by journalists.
What PR people want, apparently, is for journalists and editors to copy-paste the stuff they send.
Lauren Kirchner, Columbia Journalism Review:
While I still think it is very important for journalists to use Twitter, the following facts must be emblazoned on the brains of media Twitterati:
• Twitter represents a very small group of people in your area.
• Being popular on Twitter doesn’t necessarily make one popular or important in real life.
• Re-tweets, replies and Twitter referrals do not adequately represent the larger interest in or importance of your work as a journalist.
• Most people that use Twitter don’t use it to get news.
Ruminating earlier tonight on this issue regarding journalism, content curation, editorial judgment, and fact-checking:
If human editorial filter fails in traditional print media, what more in SEO-fixated and algorithm-based new media?
“Voice of God” journalism remains, particularly in breaking news. It has to.
The journalist’s own voice is allowed - even encouraged - in long-form stories and narratives.
You should watch Patrol ng Pilipino every early Wednesday morning, for the latter.
Haha! I do watch it whenever I have time since some of the people there are the ones I used to work and interact with. Some have remained trusted colleagues and friends to this day.
Actually we flirted with the concept back then when I was still with ABS-CBN. Me and my news chief in Cagayan de Oro, who later became my news manager in Cebu, thought of producing some behind the camera stories for the benefit of illustrating the demands of the profession. We were able to produce some stories for local consumption, but eventually we had to give it up due to the demands for coverage in the areas. The regional news stations actually have bigger news quotas than Manila. If in Manila a reporter is required one story a day; Cebu requires at least 2 or more; while Mindanao or tertiary stations demand four or more stories a day.
I agree with you that the voice of the journalist should be allowed. But to what extent that voice be interjected in the story should also be carefully monitored. While we both agree that perspective is essential in the better appreciation of news stories and the situation those stories are reporting on, the risk of increased “insertion” of the journalist’s personal thoughts is that it could result to sensationalism and highly biased news reportage. I guess journalist’s nowadays have to walk the fine line between context and accuracy, not objectivity.
Being a nation editor for the news dotcom, I edit RNG stories daily. There are some good stories from the provinces on occasion.
I just wish the RNG people send longer stories in English. :)
The editor is both curator and a filter. I agree that objectivity is an illusion. The editor’s task, in my opinion, is to ensure that facts are properly laid out for readers/viewers to form their own opinion on the issue.
The Baltimore Sun’s John McIntyre says it well. “Accuracy first, then clarity, then precision, and last, if there’s time, elegance.”
It applies to both desk personnel and field reporters.