David Montgomery's memo to Local World staff:
Skills and tasks of the senior journalist
Skills and tasks of the senior journalist
After training the journalist will assume control of a segment or segments of content. He will singly be responsible for sourcing this content, collecting it and publishing it across all platforms.
The majority of this content will be produced by third party contributors and some examples are given below. The senior journalist will negotiate with the providers of the content and organise its collection usually by self-serve by the provider. The journalist will have the task of providing attractive formats for this third party content in the first instance online and for constantly monitoring the content to instigate its promotion to a position of prominence on any platform or in some cases eliminating it.
The tradition of journalist shifts will be abandoned. The specialist segment journalist - and there will be no other category of journalist excepting content managers - will cover his content territory autonomously within the brief of the local publisher and he will work remotely. Clearly neither the content nor its providers are situated in the newspaper office.
The journalist will embody all the traditional skills of reporter, sub-editor, editor-in-chief, as well as online agility and basic design ability, acquired partly in training but in the case of on-screen capability this is expected as a basic entry qualification as it is now generally present in most 12-year-olds.
The content harvesting process is a mix of interpersonal and managerial skills. Journalists have always prided themselves on their foot in the door ability so this just needs to be updated and matched by organisational ability.
For instance take the crime, policing and courts content segment that could be extended to involve traffic, underage drinking, even immigration and other areas of life overseen by legislation. The journalist will write and extend his own brief on this and other segments.
The task of harvesting content from the various sources demands he uses his initiative and is highly productive. The first port of call will be as high in the police as he can go in his geographical territory but it is not unreasonable that the local publisher should have access to the chief constable himself for at least an introductory encounter. The purpose is to request that the publisher acts as the main conduit for police information of every type - not for the odd photofit in a dramatic crime but for all humdrum information like crime prevention that the police seek to promote. In return the journalist will offer an attractive platform for this content and a large measure of control presumably by the police information office. As trust is developed the range of content will be extended and provides an exclusive public service and will be a rich source of more traditional stories. The journalist will maintain and develop this relationship. Before anyone asks, this does not make the police or any other institution immune from scrutiny or criticism but the depth and breadth of the relationship with the local publisher will be insulation from the inevitable stresses and strains between the media and the public services.
This same model can be applied to all content segments: hospitals and general health and care, education and every school, businesses large and small, sport at all levels, entertainment and culture. This is very different from the traditional perception of UGC, usually associated with individuals who will still have a part to play but usually as professionals inside an institution like a college, a company or a leisure or sports activity.
There will be only a single rank for senior journalists. All will have a content segment or segments as their specialisation. Of course in the once in the lifetime event of the jumbo jet down in the High Street then everyone will muck in but it is self-evident that in the most traumatic news story that the specialisation of journalists will be a great resource.
This model will give the publisher an unchallengeable local knowledge and create a one-stop shop for content.