This post from Matt Waite titled “Stop waiting for them to save you” is interesting on a couple of levels. It’s built around the notion that newspapers have never really invested in training as much as they should, but that doesn’t relieve individuals of taking responsibility for their own training.
Hereâ€™s the sad truth, as I see it: how flush was your training budget when times were good? Most places, not very. So how flush do you think itâ€™s going to be now, when circulation is going down, down down, and ad revenue is going elsewhere? Hereâ€™s a hint: You probably donâ€™t have a training budget anymore.
So, to quote Shawshank Redemption, get busy living, or get busy dying.
What drives me nuts is that Iâ€™m almost completely self taught, so I get especially agitated by people who wait around to be saved.
These two quotes juxtapose my own unique position. On one side, it’s part of my job to make sure people get adequate training. On the other side, pretty much everything I know about the web (whether dealing with business issues or development technology) I taught myself.
It is frustrating to watch people sit around and wait for somebody to teach them.
Of course, I don’t think that lets me off the hook when it comes to ensuring our own staff is adequately trained. If we’re going to ask people to do all of these new things, and we expect them to do it well, we have an obligation to ensure they are trained.
Even so, I think its important for all journalists to take responsibility for their own careers and learn all they can about online content production.
Matt asks this rhetorical question:.
Why should I do something that costs me time and maybe even money to benefit my employer when I donâ€™t get paid for it?
Matthew’s response to me tracks a little more to the negative side: self-investment is a hedge against layoffs or the complete collapse of newspapers. From my own experience, I think there are more positive reasons to invest in yourself: It’s a chance to advance your career.
I spent six years with Scripps. During that time Scripps did buy me some useful books, but I took no classes and went to no seminars. Everything I learned, I taught myself. What I taught myself enabled me to do cool things and things that helped my company make money. That got me noticed. That got me promoted. One thing led to another and I’m no longer with Scripps, but I have a hell of a great job working for a great company living in a great community.
None of that would have been possible if I hadn’t invested in myself.
And nothing about where I am is planned. I just believed that if I invested in myself, good things would happen. And they did.
In the short term, Scipps benefited greatly by the things I taught myself. In the long run, I benefited more.
But back to the yen/yang of this issue.
There’s only so much you can learn about web stuff in a classroom. You can’t really learn how to shoot and edit video well or how to create Flash animations or even how to build a simple HTML page without investing a lot of your own elbow grease.
So, my question is, is it worth it for a company to invest time and money to train people who aren’t willing to train themselves?
I mean, the people who invest in themselves are the ones most likely to master the skills necessary to do great work.
To paraphrase Rob Curley, it’s mindset that matters most.
UPDATE: Catching up on my blog reading and came across this post by Danny Sanchez on a related topic: Don’t read, do.