Traits of tomorrow’s journalists

Mashable has published 8 Must-Have Traits of Tomorrow’s Journalist and I have to agree with every one.

  1. Entrepreneurial and Business Savvy.  More and more journalists are finding themselves “self-employed.”  The more you know about the value of content and how to run a business, the better.
  2. Programmer. Yep, this means knowing Flash…and HTML…and JavaScript…and more.  As the article says tomorrow’s journalists must be “able to report and present a quality story using multimedia, and having the skills to build and manage the platforms that present the stories.”
  3. Open-minded Experimenter. This may be the toughest one of all.  Journalists must learn to be innovative, to take risks – especially when it comes to connecting with audiences.
  4. Multimedia Storyteller. We’ve been saying it for years and by now, most people realize it.  You have to be able to tell stories in more than one medium and to leverage the strength of each platform for your story.
  5. The Social Journalist and Community Builder. We’re seeing this type of skill showing up in job postings now.  Newsrooms want people who have “the ability to find and connect with communities of interest both online and offline.”
  6. Blogger and Curator.  Mashable says “journalists will have to practice blogging regularly and serve as curators of other content on the Web.”
  7. Multi-skilled. This sounds a lot like “Multimedia Storyteller” to me, but I guess the distinction is that being a great writer or being a great on-camera presence may just not be enough in the future.
  8. Fundamental Journalism Skills. Yes, they still matter.  You have to have what the article calls “a marriage between core values and new media skills.”

The one thing missing from the list may be 9.  A Passionate Desire. It seems to me that the job of journalist is no longer for people who thought TV looked like a glamorous way to make a living or who wanted a paycheck while they worked on the great American novel.  Developing the traits listed will require a true dedication to the craft, and I don’t see how that can be bad for anyone.


3 comments for “Traits of tomorrow’s journalists

  1. December 15, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Great list of skills Deb! These traits cannot be emphasized enough, even with experienced journalists they are a must.

    Just a point about the “programmer” skill set.

    Fortunately, there are many applications and user-friendly content management systems that already enable many journalists to make due without the javascript, html, etc. knowledge. I’m speaking of things like the user-friendly WordPress content managment system as opposed to learning Dreamweaver, or using Google Maps instead of learning to use Flash to build an interactive map graphic, and numerous other applications, free web tools, etc.

    If you keep your eyes and ears open there are many resources, free of charge, to usher journalists into the future.

  2. cloudclipper
    December 15, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    I definitely agree with adding No. 9. Journalists’ passion about their craft shows through in the quality of work they do.

  3. Deb Wenger
    December 15, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    Jeff, I agree that there are a tremendous number of resources out there allowing journalists to do great work without writing code (thank goodness!).

    I do think that the more knowledge you have of the “back end” of the Web, the better. But there are certainly more workarounds for “programmer” trait than there are for the “storyteller” trait, for example.

    Thanks for weighing in!

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