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.