An Intervention for Journalists Lacking Web Skills

Four resources to bring you into the 21st century.

You're hearing everywhere about how you need web skills to keep your job. Ad nauseam, in fact. You really don't need one more person to tell you that you'd better start teaching yourself. But the problem is, where and when do you learn all these skills? And which ones do you learn first?

It's time to join a 12-step program to break your addiction to Luddism. And it happens that you're in luck.

In his blog, Howard Owen, director of digital publishing for GateHouse Media, lays out an 11-step program for non-wired journalists to get wired, and he offers a $100 Amazon gift certificate to one such journalist who completes this program in 2008. (OK, so it's one step short, but you can always make up your own 12th step.)

It's a good plan. It's simple and very doable, and it covers the bases with almost all the important skills. (Maybe you could throw in podcasting as that final step.) Owens gives suggestions on how and where to get started, too. Reading and following his advice should take the intimidation factor out of learning web skills no matter how technophobic you are.

Owen's post led directly to the launch of a second resource to help journalists get wired.Resource Number 2

It's called -- well, It's the brainchild of Owens; Ryan Sholin, director of community site publishing for GateHouse Media; and Zac Echola, a content producer at Forum Communications Co.

A post on Sholin's blog announces the site launch. The post includes this excerpt from the Mission Statement, but it addresses the fear factor so well that I have to reproduce it here:
Our goal is to help journalists who have few resources on hand other than their own desire to make a difference and help journalism grow into its new 21st Century role.

You don’t need the best equipment, the biggest budget or even management support to accomplish worthy goals. The only requirement is a willingness to learn and a mind open to new ways of thinking about journalism.

We are here to help each other learn basic skills and learn how new technology and new societal expectations for media are changing journalism.

At we are all teachers and we are all students. We help each other and learn together. Those who know more should help those who know less. Those with questions should never be afraid to ask them.
That sounds like just what I'm looking for. I immediately signed up.

Resource Number 3A third resource I just learned about is a Jan. 31 webinar hosted by NewsU and Poynter. It's called Multimedia Tools: Your 2008 Shopping List. From the course description:
Ready to build, or beef up, your multimedia newsroom? You know you'll need digital cameras, audio recorders, lights and lots more. In this one-hour Webinar, you'll learn which tools you need to efficiently (and cost-effectively) produce digital video, audio and still photos. You've got your money for 2008, now we'll help you spend it wisely. This Webinar will cover:
  • How to identify your multimedia needs and the equipment that works best

  • Which features are most important in still cameras, audio recorders and video cameras

  • Which equipment can improve the workflow in your multimedia production

  • What you can expect to spend on equipment

As a bonus, you'll be able to download our suggested shopping list and customize it for your newsroom.
It's not free, but the cost is reasonable at $30.

Resource Number 4Last, I've been thinking for some time about the panel discussion on blogging I participated in at the 2006 ASBPE National Editorial Conference, and how surprised I was at how surprised some of the audience was when they found out how easy it was to get started blogging. So I decided to post my presentation from the panel on SlideShare. A few of the details in it are outdated, but for the most part the information is good, and it should serve to get you started on Owens' first step.
Feel free to email me with questions, or post them in a comment.

Note: I learned about the first two items on the above list through a Folio: article on using the web in your job search, which I in turn found through a post about uncooperative sources on the ASBPE Cleveland blog. Both are well worth reading.

Update, 1/24/08, 11:35 a.m.: Paul Conley just pointed out to me that has a group specifically for B2B editors -- so if you register for the site, be sure to join the World of B2B group.

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