Editor 2.0

Connect these dots to create the job description of the 21st century editor:

* The Guardian is hiring a tag editor — a keyword manager, they call it:

Guardian Unlimited requires a keyword manager to look after the labelling of our content online to ensure that it is consistent with the needs of the reader and the editorial values of the Guardian and Observer. The role requires attention to the demands both of a considerable content archive and of a fast-moving news operation, and involves work across media; from text to cartoons, video to podcasts. It would suit either a journalist with a particular interest in archiving, or someone with a background in information science who possesses a keen editorial sense.

And I hope the person understands the value of the metadata added by the audience. Sitting on his or her desk on the first day should be a copy of David Weinberger’s Everything’s Miscellaneous.

* The Times of London has hired a search editor.

The Times’ Search Editor is to explain to the editorial staff how the search structure of the Web functions, work on indexed pages and improve the rankings of their newspaper articles in Google, Yahoo! and other search engines.

The Times of New York has had About.com SEO god Marshall Simmonds making it more searchable and it has been paying off.

* See Jay Rosen’s coordinates for a news site and note the new job qualifications therein: organizing community effort, presenting data, aggregation. I’d add others to that, including the idea of curating.

* Listen to the talk at the Networked Journalism Summit at CUNY and you’ll hear a lot about journalists as managers and from me you’ll hear talk about journalists as entrepreneurs and innovators and I’ve been arguing that journalists must become curators and community organizers.

* See Michael Rosenblum coming to teach our students at CUNY his method for making compelling video stories without the trucks. Everybody can make TV now.

I say that’s all exciting: new frontiers, new things to learn and create.

Now try to connect these dots from the other side of the old/new divide:

* Alan Mutter posted earlier this month on the brain drain afflicting journalism; it’s a self-inflicted ailment:

But the young net natives, for the most part, rank too low in the organizations that employ them to be invited to the pivotal discussions determining the stratgeic initiatives that could help their employers sustain their franchises.

“In most organizations, the people with the most online experience have the least political capital,” said one mid-level online editor at a newspaper. “It seems like the pace of change inside media is slowing, tied up in politics and lack of expertise in managing technical projects – while the pace of change is continuing apace outside our windows.”

Members of the wired generation say the process, bureaucracy and caution common to most media companies steals spontaneity and edginess away from ideas that could be appealing to their peers. . . .

“I don’t understand or like the media,” said the online newspaper editor who’s planning his exit. “Blogging has shown me that I don’t really need the guys that own the presses anymore. I’ll probably stay in journalism, but I can’t wait to get out of the media.”

* I found this whiny, territorial, ass-covering, protecting-the-priesthood, preservation-instead-of-innovation faux report from the UK’s National Union of Journalists to be particularly disturbing as they complained about things that are not done their way in various unnamed journalistic institutions trying to go online:

– A chapel at a Newsquest title in north of England told the commission that “stories are going online unsubbed” directly from a newsdesk.
– In some publications, “there are no experienced journalists working on the websites and copy is handled by web technicians”.
– The ease of copying and pasting leads to journalists under time pressure to “simply lump text across without proper consideration of its quality or reliability”. . . .
– Single-journalist video reporting has clear drawbacks, the report says. “To have to seek out information and people to interview, then interview and photograph or film them, then have to write and voice the script, is an inefficient way of working and can never produce such good results as a team.”
The report stresses the need for proper video training. “Untrained or semi-trained writers or photographers have been turning in such poor video material and taking so long to do it that even the meanest employers appear to be taking notice,” the report says. Several publications reported having to ease up on enthusiasm for video as reality caught up with quality expectations. However the report also acknowledges that “in centres where video training has be thorough, and the journalists are given proper support, work of high quality is being done.”
– Members from a regional daily told the commission: “There is real concern over lack of policy/guidelines and lines of responsibility between papers and web … things would be better if there was a dedicated video unit subject to the web team so decisions about what to cover and how could be integrated into the day’s news plan”.
– “The practice of reporters taking photographs is becoming widespread, to the detriment of the quality of images.”

Oh, ferchrissakes. Bring back wooden type. How many of those kvetchers are going to be qualified to act as search or tagging editor … or survive on their own when they’re laid off?

I was ready to pull my hair out when I saw Mindy McAdams pointing to this post by a just-out-of-school journalists in a newsroom who — unlike the old days when young people had to spend decades working their way up to being heard — is included in planning for the future. This gave me hope.

I have to admit, I have sat in on more than one conversation where people discussed an idea that there is no way in hell would float with my peers. How do I know? Because like those peers, *I* am attached to my iPod, digital camera and cell phone on a 24/7 basis. (OK except in the shower or bed, but within reach of both should the need to text a friend or hear my favorite song strike me.) *I* am more comfortable going without food than the Internet, because I know skipping a meal won’t kill me, missing up-to-the-date information seems like it might. *I* barely remember a time before Google was a verb and IM was an acceptable form of conversation even with my parents. *I* have never subscribed to a print newspaper or paid for cable news, and yet *I* am never the last to know, because I have breaking news and Google alerts, RSS feeds, Twitter and Facebook newsfeed, among other things, keeping me in the loop both with what’s happening across the globe and also among my closest buds.

But here’s the thing: *I* was invited to those conversations. . . .

s the best use of my talents at this point as a reporter covering school assemblies and school board meetings with a few in-depth enterprise packages thrown in each week? Or am I squandering — or allowing to be squandered — the best years of my life, when I really should be able to experiment, take chances and occasionally even screw up, just because I have to pay my dues to get to the point where I can do those things?

No. 1 qualification for journalist today: accepting change.