Posts Tagged ‘Training’

This continues a series on advice for new top editors in Digital First Media newsrooms.

A Digital First editor leads a lot of change in a newsroom. So you need to be sure that your staff receives the training to execute the changes you are leading.

I help with this in my visits to the newsrooms of new editors for Digital First Media, but the need for training continues and the editor should make training part of the newsroom’s culture and routines:


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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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Digital-first editors are caught in transition.

Many are longtime print editors. However much they have been embracing and resisting the digital transformation the past couple decades (and most of us have been doing some of both), they understand now that the future is digital and they want to help lead that newsroom of the future. Even the editors who are digital natives who’ve worked more online than in print are caught in this transition because they are leading staffs through the transition.

Don’t look at the suggestions here as an exact checklist for the digital-first editor. We want editors who don’t need checklists, who find creative solutions for their newsrooms. The staff dynamic, size and abilities, the community’s needs and the editor’s own strengths, weaknesses and creativity will determine the right leadership approach for each newsroom. And the challenges and opportunities for each newsroom are unique, at least in their details, and leadership must respond to them with solutions that are unique, at least in their details.

Don’t look at this checklist as a yardstick by which to measure the success or failings of a particular editor. Perhaps some editor excels in all of these areas (I wouldn’t, if I were still leading a newsroom), but that would be a rare editor.

View these as my suggestions for digital-first editors trying to meet the challenges and opportunities this transition: (more…)

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Thanks to Buffy Andrews for the invitation to write a guest post for her blog. I blogged with my advice that journalists should train themselves. I’m a big believer in the value of training for a news organization, and I am pleased that the Journal Register Co. is placing high importance on training as we pursue a Digital First strategy. But I say journalists should also train themselves, regardless of whether our bosses are providing training opportunities:

The benefits of teaching yourself go beyond the skill you just learned: You underscore your own responsibility for your professional growth; you are less intimidated the next time you encounter a new tool or technique you know you should learn; lessons stick better when you learn by doing.

You can read the rest over at Buffy’s World, but I’ll make one more point here: I was pleased to see Buffy reach out to start working with me before our bosses work out details of our new relationship. Buffy is an editor and social media coordinator at the York Daily Record, a news organization owned by MediaNews Group. Last month JRC and MediaNews reached agreement for a new JRC subsidiary, Digital First Media, to manage MediaNews. Bosses are working out exactly what that means, but Buffy could see that it meant that we’re colleagues now. She didn’t need to see the new org chart to send me a Twitter direct message, inviting me to write a guest post.

I admired the initiative and look forward to working with her and other MediaNews colleagues.

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This is the handout for a workshop I am presenting for the Maynard Academy Thursday at the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University. This is an updated version of a handout I have used (and posted online) before.

However well you know a topic, you need to master presentation skills if you want to teach colleagues about the topic, summarize something complicated or make your case for a position or proposal. These tips were originally developed to help journalists train their colleagues in workshops, but they can be helpful in making other presentations as well. (more…)

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