Despite all the changes in the newspaper business, top editors say the most important skill for journalists is still good writing. A survey by the Project for Excellence in Journalism found that 88% of editors ranked writing skills as “very essential,” while only 39% put multimedia skills in that same category.
But multimedia skills were rated as either very or somewhat essential by 90% of the editors surveyed. And multimedia is clearly where the jobs are: More papers have added videographers over the past three years (63%) than any other job category. Web-only editors came in second (57%). The PEJ report also notes that many newspapers are hiring MoJos–solo journalists who report, shoot video and file from a remote location:
Today, reporters who once carried with them little more than a pencil, a notebook and their newspaper’s first edition deadline time, are taking on new responsibilities at a dizzying pace. Anders Gyllenhaal, Executive Editor of the Miami Herald (circulation: 240,000) listed six distinct venues for which Herald newsroom staffers were expected to provide content: the print newspaper, the paper’s website (miamiherald.com), an entertainment/leisure time site launched recently by the paper (miami.com), the local PBS station for which the Herald provides news content, a web-linked television operation owned by the paper and the Herald’s instant news service, packages of brief news stories sent to Internet subscribers during the course of the day.
One other survey answer clearly does reflect the new media world we all live in. The editors ranked “ability to file quickly” as more important than data analysis skills, which may indicate a preference for speed over depth. (Thanks to Ryan Thornburg for highlighting the results.)