The new baseline skill set

I was looking at a couple of recent job postings at our newspapers and it occurs to me that the baseline skill set has quietly shifted. Students and veterans alike should take notice:

Be prepared to work in multiple media, simultaneously. We're digital-first, but we still print.

Be prepared to blog and interact with the public. As a writer, this means you need to develop a distinct voice, and know when and how to use it. Not everybody gets a blog at first, but you should want one -- and know why you want one.

Be prepared to shoot video and still images with a smartphone. In our case, we expect you to come equipped and we provide a subsidy. Extra points if you can help coach your co-workers.

Be prepared to use social networking to further your job goals. This includes listening, engaging and promoting your work.

Be prepared to gather data for databases. You don't have to be a programmer. Know how to use simple tools like Caspio to put data sets online and make them searchable. Know how to get access to data, including how to use state freedom-of-information laws.

A year or so ago I went to a recruiting fair at a university, hoping to find a smart, technologically oriented journalism student who could join our team as an entry-level software developer and site builder. What I got instead was a parade of earnest young would-be magazine writers. I suppose some of them are employed somewhere, but the future demands a different kind of journalism graduate than we might have needed in the 1970s.


Thank you for a synopsis that helps connect the dots and illustrate just how things have -- and will continue -- to change. I hope sharing it in my room will solidify for the few, the proud, the curmudgeons that it's now or never.

Steve ... Agree x 3. Now you need to get this story out to colleges and universities everywhere ... hell, high schools too. I started in the biz when we were still melting lead in Linotypes and retired just short of the smart phone revolution. At no time in history have things changed faster. Here's one more tip for the newbies: Stay on the balls of your feet. Five years after you have mastered all these skills you will be expected to master even more.

Steve... I am constantly reaffirmed as a misanthrope when I read a piece like this. That professionals without these most basic 21st century literacy skills are still employed reflects organizations that will be run over in due course. (As they should be in my view.) In the year 2000, in a large news enterprise in Washington DC, they asked me to take the "Interns" for a semester. A dozen or so. I announced that I would not take students that could not do all of your list (minus social media). But Mike the head of HR said to me, "what if the students are not up to speed?" I said, then they won't join us. I was partially sucessfull and still interact with one of those over achievers of the time. 12 years later, in the midst of a hyper social media explosion, the coming of trans media and app development that happens overnight, it's hard to believe a distinguished journalist/knowledge consultant still has to nudge people to be able to do the minimum. It's time for large enterprises to begin a ruthless vetting of employees who cannot will not or have not engaged the world with the many tools and channels that are required of a professional in the 21t century. If they don't then the darwinian global information storm will do it for them. As Tom Friedman said last week, "Average is Over" and Seth Godin the week before, If you are a poorly skilled worker, "you're going straight to the bottom". Regards, mike whatley Pasadena, Ca.

I find it hilarious that your post, which admonishes people without the "most basic 21st century (sic) literacy skills," is so clearly in need of basic editing and proofreading.

Amusing Al. And thank you for the "correction".That said, it doesn't change anything. The uneducated, and sort of educated have a bleak future. As it should be. Cheers from LA where I am at ground zero of celebrity worship involved in covering the Academy Awards.