In an ever-changing media world, everyone struggles to keep up. Is it better to be a generalist or pick a specialty and is anyone ever really a jack-of-all trades? Here, John Gallant, SVP and chief content officer for IDG Enterprise and noted speaker at FOLIO:’s MediaNext event, October 28 to 30 in New York, talks about the new job of an editor, the importance of having an entrepreneurial mindset and who he wants working for him.
FOLIO: In general terms, how has the job of an editor changed in the last five years?
John Gallant: What hasn’t changed about the job of the editor is to ensure that the editorial team is serving a distinct audience well. What has changed is the variety of tools and approaches to achieve that mission.
I think editors need to be much more open about experimentation and learning from reader reaction and from the analytics, which are now a core part of life. We have the opportunity and challenge of re-thinking everything from what we cover, how and when we cover it, tone, headline, graphic presentation, use of data and more. Editors have to drive this experimentation, learn from it and build upon successes.
FOLIO: As a hiring manager, do you look for people who have more general or specialized skill sets?
Gallant: Covering technical topics for an experienced audience of IT practitioners, it’s always very helpful to find someone who has specialized knowledge of the topics to be covered. But, that’s not a mandate. People can learn all kinds of complicated jargon and arcane issues.
What’s critical today is to find people who have the key skills of writing and reporting, but also social promotion, a bit of self-promotion, the ability to write with appropriate tone, and the drive to learn from analytics and experience to build their audiences.
FOLIO: In any organization, large or small, how important is an entrepreneurial mindset in the editorial department?
Gallant: An entrepreneurial attitude is vital. This comes back to my experimentation comment. The new ways to serve an audience are vast and editors need to experiment, study the results, tweak and advance. Editors need to see themselves as valuable commodities who need a bit of marketing and self-promotion and who have the responsibility to learn constantly. That ability to advance yourself also advances the brand for which you write. Learning from analytics, trying new things, promoting your work—these are the hallmarks of entrepreneurialism.