Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Editor is dead, Long live the Editor

Jack Griffin, President of Publishing house Meredith says "We don’t hire editors anymore. We hire content strategists." Spoken like a founding member of the World Desperate Publishers Union. The Onslaught of the internet is doing strange things to people.

I look at these new-fangled posts at some publishing houses:
- Content Strategists - Community Conversation Ambasadors - Community Conversation Editor

The organizations that have these positions perhaps to convince themselves that "Yes, we understand what web 2.0 is".

In some measures, that is not a bad thing if you have your other bases covered.

By other bases, I mean content.
Content always first.

Engaging the reader community is a good thing.
Question is, how far will you go?

You did well by using web 2.0 tools.
The erstwhile 'cool' magazine now allows readers to publish blogs on the site.

For a while, you might convince the reader that you 'care'.

Nevertheless, putting more resources to cover issues that readers care about is far more important.
It is bad form (and a bad idea) to depend upon the reader to come up with the goods - to do free work for you.

Out here, in India, I see the other side of a service economy. On the plus side, it encourages you to see much more managerial talent, well versed in global MBA-speak, honed after years of work in our MBA factories.

However, the usage of Jargon is spreading like a contagion. You see someone calling the Project Manager as ‘PM’ and team members as 'Resources' and it spreads through the organization first and then outside.

A friend, working in an e-learning company complained about everyone using the same catchphrases:"At the end of the day,”, "As in", "Meaning", and virtually the same style of making Powerpoint presentations. More on this in some other post.

Some brilliant soul decided to call writers as content writers and it has spread like a virus, shitting out related terms - content developer, content editor, content lead, senior specialist lead...

When I joined as an editor at a Blog Network, the management told me that I was also responsible for bringing in the traffic. Having no mainstream media background, I took it as a challenge. I cannot say I succeeded in bringing in great traffic but I learnt New Media on the Job.

The Guardian newspaper has new posts - Tag Editor (helping reporters tag articles better) and Search Editor. These positions complement, not displace the editor's job.

The Guardian is one of the few newspapers who understand that the editor of the future needs to understand and then master New Media tools and techniques.

A short survey of the New Media toolset reveals the following: SEO, usability, design and layout best practices, public forum management, story and comment voting, ‘readersourcing’ (using readers to help in a story), reader engagement best practices, SMM (social Media Marketing), basics of video and audio content production (& promoting it using video sites like Youtube and Social media sites).

I do not know what a content strategist does. But I do know it does not take a two year New Media course to master all this. and the smart editors are already adapting to the new realities.

The movies and the recording industries face a bigger challenge from the internet.
However, I do not see the Film Director being renamed as Film Strategist, Film Co-ordinator, Film Marketer...

To sum it all up: out with the jargon and in with the New Media skill set.

Link thanks to Buzzmachine

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At 1:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do I see Journalists in "Dawn of the dead" poster?


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