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Archive for February 13th, 2012

Journalists in Digital First newsrooms in Connecticut will earn bonuses as they master important digital skills.

Matt DeRienzo, Group Editor for Connecticut, announced plans today for Digital Ninja School, a plan to help staff members develop skills in five key digital areas: digital publishing, social media, blogging, video and data.

Newsroom training has been a passion of mine since the mid-1990s, and I am pleased and proud that training plays such a prominent role in Digital First efforts to change our company’s business model, culture and workflow. I first discussed this plan with Matt on a visit to the Register Citizen in Torrington last June. As Matt acknowledged on Twitter today, the “ninja” concept is “super hokey.” But what’s super-important is that the ninja “belts” that journalists earn through the program are backed up by actual cash. A journalist earning all five belts will earn $2,000 in bonuses (to say nothing of the opportunities for advancing to positions that pay more.

In each of the five areas, journalists will complete some core requirements and choose some electives to master through a mix of workshops, webinars and hands-on experience. On the Ninja School blog, journalists will document their training and their use of the skills on the job. To complete additional levels, you need to document that you are still using the skills from previous belts.

Journalists take the initiative in deciding which belts to earn first, and what they need to do to master each skill. Supervisors go over plans with the journalists and provide the time and resources to complete the training. Chris March, Matt and I have compiled an extensive list of training resources.

If you expect journalists to use new skills on the job, you need to provide training to help them master those new skills. Through Digital Ninja School, our journalists in Connecticut have resources, time and incentives to become better digital journalists. I look forward to helping in Ninja School training. I hope and expect that a similar comprehensive training program will be offered before long throughout the company.

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