Is this a journalism job?

Are you a student? Contrast this to your course. Are you an editor? Do you have/need these skills in your newsroom?

There are some journalism job ads that could be asking for  Superman rather than for old plain Mr.Kent, but this one seems to be reasonable enough, if not only for the impression it gives that someone has a strategy.

Candidates should describe their success conceptualizing and building news apps, data visualizations, and interactive graphics. If you are a visual storyteller, someone who sees the narrative in numbers, and thinks in code, this is your opportunity to make a mark. Expect your journalism skills to be as important as your programming skills.  This editorial position will ask you to tell stories differently and inspire others to do the same.

The work will require advanced experience with HTML5, CSS, JavaScript (jQuery); an understanding of responsive design and proficiency with interaction design and user interfaces; familiarity with mining and manipulating data and Web scraping. Light Ruby or Python helpful.

The goal:

Create storyboards, wire frames, page layouts, prototypes, emails, landing pages and other Web assets and deliverables needed during project development.
•   Publish interactive graphics, data visualizations, news apps, multimedia and other digital content with an excellence that matches the reporting it supports.

Basic requirements:

  • College degree
  • Minimum of 2 years programming experience
  • Advanced command of HTML5, CSS, JavaScript (including jQuery)
  • Light Ruby or Python for data mining, Web scraping
  • Comfort with data analysis
  • Understanding of responsive design
  • Familiarity with Final Cut Pro and Adobe InDesign

For most journalism students and editors that I know this could be a job offer for astronauts. But it is not. Mindy McAdams puts it right:

This is a very reasonable list, in my opinion, and the ad copy is good overall. It is not the kind of “computer jesus” job description that Sean Blanda blasted in 2008. What’s the likelihood that the McClatchy Company (which publishes 30 daily newspapers) will find a perfect person to hire? I’m not sure. And will the salary be good enough? Washington, D.C., is an expensive area to live in.

Those concerns aside, what does this list say to journalism educators? And to journalism students who love design?

Is this a job for a person who has a degree in computer science? Absolutely not. You will not learn those skills in a computer science program.

I have this problem when people ask me what I do. I say “digital content producer” which is a mouthful of nothing. Sometimes I sprinkle it with “multimedia/interactive” but it sounds empty and a bit esoteric and neither potential employers nor civilians get it. I do a bit of HTML5 and CSS3 coding, deal well with video and audio, know how to write for the web, can design and create interactive multimedia narratives, and possess other assorted skills that can come handy for the high expertise environment of the digital world. A jack of all trades, master of none.

In my last appearance before a journalism students audience I did my informal poll and asked them in which medium they wanted to work in. TV and print got a full room of arms raised, radio had a few, but the internet – the medium they use more than any other – had none. It’s hard to change the game when the future players don’t know about the new rules.

Is this a journalism job? Hell, yes.

My advice for students: try to learn these skills and you’ll do fine, someday (maybe not here in Portugal).

My advice for editors: consider why you’d never put out an ad like this and understand why your business is tanking.

 

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