Editors are faced with not only a demanding and ever-expanding list of must-have skill sets, but also a change in mindset. Two of the smartest editors we’ve spoken to over the last year—one from the consumer side, one from b-to-b—talk about what they’ll be looking for in editorial talent over the next few years.
Alfred Edmond, Editor-in-Chief, Black Enterprise
“At least three skills will be key across the board for people in editorial. First, we’ll need to be better than ever at spotting and developing talent, especially people with the right attitude and degree of intelligence and flexibility. Print journalists will end up needing to be able to help develop a television show, content for a Web site, podcasts and so on. We need to hire people who are not only technically skilled and talented but people who are coachable, not stuck in what they were doing before but with an attitude that will allow them to adapt to something totally different.
Second, because we’re asked to do more with the same resources, it will be increasingly important for editors to have a general manager’s mentality. It’s like if the owner of a professional sports team tells you to accomplish this and that but without increasing the salary cap.
The last thing that gets harder and harder to do in this world of so-called multimedia convergence is that somebody in the organization has to maintain the integrity of the content. Despite all the cross-pollination and multiple uses and repurposing of content, the consumer has to trust that someone is the guardian of the audience, saying that this information is credible.
Wyatt Kash, Editor-in-Chief, GCN – Government Computer News
“There is a lot of pressure on editors and journalists to begin developing and delivering stories as a multi-media package for the web. But in practice, the tools to edit and produce those packages require a lot more training and resources than most publishing houses are willing to support. There’s a reason we don’t ask our writers to learn Quark or HTML—those skills are important in the production stage. But when it comes to generating original or value-added content, I’d rather our writers commit their time and our resources to developing relationships with sources and honing their journalism and writing skills than learning how to put a Podcast together.
“With that said, I think our writers and editors absolutely need to keep abreast of the rapidly changing nature of information on the Internet. They need to understand not only how information is being gathered, assembled and presented in new ways online, but also realize that those changes are impacting our readers’ experiences and expectations. So the skills that will be important for me to see as I recruit talent will be the ability to use emerging online research, networking, and collaboration tools online as well as the ability to get answers to frank questions in person from the right sources in our market.”