John Robinson, editor of the Greensboro (NC) News-Record, wrote an insightful piece on his blog about what he looks for in students coming out of journalism school. The only reason I got hired for my first newspaper job was because I went to the University of Missouri J-School (seriously, that’s what my boss told me), but I think Robinson’s list is more inclusive and definitely more modern.
Some of Robinson’s criteria include:
- “Innovative thinking – The last thing we need are traditional thinkers. Want to write long series on ‘important’ issues of the day. Get in line. Those journalists are vital, and we have them. Want to help create new and different ways of speaking to readers? See a new way to marry our desire to commit journalism and the public’s desire to get news and information how, when and where it wants it? Batter up!”
- “Read newspapers. You’d be surprised at the number of applicants who readily acknowledge that they don’t read a newspaper. I know that young people get much of their news online — and I do expect you to be able to name the journalism bloggers you read — but, really, you need to be reading a paper version of the product if you want to come and work for one.”
- “Understands community. Don’t plan to get involved in the community? Don’t plan to go to church or temple or join a book club or volunteer or sample the downtown night spots or build a Habitat House or serve food at the soup kitchen? Well, to cover the community right you need to be part of it. And when you talk with and listen to readers on your blog, on the comment section of the stories you write, on the telephone, you’ll have a clue.”
You still can’t go wrong with a Missouri graduate. Short of that, however, I hope other editors take these reasons to heart and consider them when interviewing new recruits or even experienced reporters. More importantly, I hope our journalism schools do a better job preparing students for the future of news.