‘We don’t hire editors anymore’

That’s the provocative headline I saw in Folio’s report from its conference and a speech by Meredith president Jack Griffin. The fuller context:

As a result, the company invested in its interactive and integrated marketing businesses–spending roughly $600 million since 2002 on launches, acquisitions and building out its existing Web sites, Griffin said, as well as redefining its editorial hiring approach. “We don’t hire editors anymore,” he said. “We hire content strategists.”

I’m not sure what that means. But it made for a good headline.

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  • Bill K.

    This is an ominous sign but I think a true representation of what’s happening with online content.

    What I see are Web sites that just throw up stories fast and furiously, hoping somehow someone will notice a story and link to it with a blog post. Most often the story isn’t put within the context of what’s happened before.

    I’ve even seen people, “content strategists” they call them, copy entire blog posts (ask Om) in an attempt to keep up with Web churn.

    The horror of all horrors are press releases that are cut and pasted to fill screen real estate. Yesterday, I was at a Web site doing this, and I saw their disclaimer at the bottom basically saying, we’re not responsible for the accuracy of this hype.

    With all this recycling of PR material, we will see the Web turn into one giant buzz machine?

  • I’m still partial to “curator,” or at least curating editor. The editor is still in demand; the medium of an editor’s work may have shifted (albeit not quite as much as some will lead you to believe), but “content strategist” is essentially a poor representation of the shift.

    If I went on an interview with Folio, the first thing I’d ask is, ‘can you describe the difference between said strategist and a traditional editor? ‘

  • The change in the publishing industry/profession is quite real, but boy will I be glad when the bombast and rhetoric die down.

    I study search engine optimization and web analytics every day, I blog and do content promotion, we’re relaunching our website with a robust keyword strategy, et cetera. You can stick whatever name badge on me that you like, if that’s important to you, but I’m an editor.

  • Content Strategy is a practice that many digitally focused ad agencies are selling these days to remain relevant in the digital marketing space.

    The “democratization of publishing” has not only affected the publishing industry, but also the advertising and PR industries, not least because anyone is empowered to become a marketing executive.

    Content strategy is a way to separate the professional marketers from the amateurs.

    This is now also happening with video based content, thanks to YouTube. Professional producers of content (i.e., Hollywood) have to compete with those auteurs who have a good ear for dialogue, a good eye, and know a little something about compelling editing.

  • Eric,
    You say “Content strategy is a way to separate the professional marketers from the amateurs” as if ‘amateurs’ is pejorative, then you go on to point out that YouTubers are giving the professional content producers a run for their money.

    I’m not sure you can have it both ways, and that’s where a good editor comes into this discourse.

    If we have user-generated content without a system of surfacing the great and leaving the bad behind, everyone loses. If we have stellar information but poor communication, everyone loses; the reverse is also true.

    In the end it’s a matter of semantics, which I think Mr. Jarvis meant by “I’m not sure what that means. But it made for a good headline.”

    The function remains the same, the medium changes (perhaps continually even). If a person driving a minivan goes on to drive an SUV, they’re still driving. Same function, slightly different medium.