If the economy of the web forces us all to cut our cloth accordingly, the list of job requirements will go further than that…

By Rick Waghorn: (My thanks to Paul for this opportunity to ‘cross-post’; this is from OutWithABang yesterday… http://outwithabang.rickwaghorn.co.uk/?p=153 – I have to say being granted access to someone else’s blog is very weird; it’s like tip-toeing through someone else’s bedroom… Anyway, we digress.)

Much has already been made of the Daily Express’ decision to slash away at its cost base by asking its reporters to place their stories on the pages themselves – in an instant wiping out the sub-editors’ craft.

Self-written, self-subbed pages – that’s the future, say the suits. Before introducing the nice man from Sweden whose new, multi-platform CMS system can make it all happen…

Clearly what’s good enough for Richard Desmond is good enough for the Epping Forest Gazette – and, indeed, reportedly the Welwyn & Hatfield Times as Archant mirrors Newsquest’s thinking in multi-skilling and multi-tasking their local news reporters for this new digital world.

What’s interesting is the job descriptions that follow in technology’s wake; there are 300 journalists across the Midlands already applying for a job with the word ‘multi’ well to the fore… many, many more will be asked to follow suit as the suits upstairs desperately seek to match revenue to editorial process.

To quote Patrick’s story

“The job description for Newsquest London’s new senior multimedia journalist position includes the following points:

  • Editorial duties…including writing, uploaiding, editing, subbing, photography and video.
  • Maintaining a presence in local communities while meeting changing content and production demands.
  • Contribute fully to productitivity of editorial team, regularly contributing ideas and subjects for multimedia content including news, features, photographs, picture galleries, videos, blogs and campaigns.
  • To act as mentor to trainee journalists and perform duties of other editorial managers on a temporary basis.
  • To demonstrate knowledge of the area, local issues and key influencers.
  • To engage with an expanding network of contacts.
  • To actively encourage community generated content in print and online, including blogs, commmeents, videos and photographs.
  • To attend a variety of events, including evening and weekend events where appropriate.
  • To ensure that all relevant benchmark and productivity targets are met consistently.
  • To respond quickly, with multimedia options considered, to breaking news stories in or out of office hours, either personally or by alerting the relevant manager.
  • To consistently demonstrate advanced subbing, design and production-related skills.
  • The job description adds: “This job description summarises the main aspects of the job, but does not cover all the duties that the jobholder may be required to perform…It is not intended to restrict the scope of the job, but clearly to define its starting point.”

Given my Mrs is a sub-editor, the potential demise of her noble craft is a subject dear to her heart. But having been a senior news and court reporter for some eight years before that, she kind of figured that she might – just – be able to cover most bases. Just.

She is, after all, the one in our house that uploads the latest pictures of his lordship onto the PC.

There is, however, a bigger point to this. Indeed, a slightly scary point.

Because I’d agree with them. The suits, that is. For that list may well be only the ’starting point’. Particularly on any local ‘beat’ envisaged – and, potentially, enabled – by MyLocalWriter.com.

For if the future provision of local news is destined to return to a cottage industry – http://outwithabang.rickwaghorn.co.uk/?p=30 – which is, after all, what MyFootballWriter has been over the last two years, then that job description actually doesn’t go far enough…

For the numbers may yet prove to be such that cutting your cloth accordingly wipes out the advertising department as well – over and above the subs desk, the picture desk, the letters page, the listings page, etc…

All of whom could be about to meet their maker as we desperately scramble to make the sums work; to work according to what little cloth the web actually leaves us.

So, to my mind, that already epic job description misses out the bit about ’sourcing and servicing the local advertising community… invoicing advertisers on a 28-day basis… chasing up late payments… approving advertising artwork, etc, etc…

Because that may well have to be part of our future too; certainly if anyone fancies earning even half a living from this new cottage industry of ours.

The end result? That we’re damned to becoming just a digital jack of all journalistic trades; haunted by the fear that we will end up mastering none.

Faint hearts need not apply.

3 thoughts on “If the economy of the web forces us all to cut our cloth accordingly, the list of job requirements will go further than that…

  1. TheWorstofPerth

    I am surprised they still make distinction between multimedia journo and bog standard journo. Won't everyone be expected to wield their nokias for video stills and reportage whatever they're called? If good enough subbing is acceptable, then good enough photography will take out the photo pro too. But maybe we are underestimating people. Maybe superb subbing, stills, to camera, writing and video will be mastered by single journos. I can just imagine that, but I'm not sure about sending out the ad bills on top.

  2. Pingback: Citizen journalism returns, but is it making the same mistakes? AllVoices tours the UK | Online Journalism Blog

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