Key job skill for newspapers: how to hire

When I read things like the following quote from Paul Conley, I despair for the future of our industry.

A few months ago I sat on a panel with two recruiters from mid-sized newspaper chains. They were both lovely people. But I think it’s safe to say that they didn’t share my beliefs about how to recruit or what to look for in a new hire.

One of them was asked “what would make you throw out a resume?” And she replied that she wouldn’t hire anyone with a resume that said “multimedia reporter.” She went on to say that she was looking for “newspaper people.” But then, a few minutes later, she mentioned that the reporters at her chain were now being trained to carry video cameras.

The other woman, when asked about how she looks through applications, said she doesn’t look at electronic resumes and won’t follow links to Web stories, multimedia packages or other online examples of work. The reason? She said she didn’t have the time, and preferred to look at things on paper.

Need I say more?

Sad, isn’t it?

12 thoughts on “Key job skill for newspapers: how to hire

  1. I was at that session and Paul was the only one talking any sense. The other recruiters were trying to start a fire with flint while Paul was burning down the house with a blow torch.

  2. Beyond sad. The first woman doesn’t seem to even grasp the English language. “We’re looking for newspaper people who are now being trained to carry video cameras.” That’s called multimedia…

    I never really thought too deeply about this weak link in the hiring chain, but now I’m frightened. It doesn’t matter if top editors know what to look for if they never see the applications from HR.

  3. I was given similar advice when applying for internships for my first summer in grad school.

    Links to stories online, I was told, were not as impressive as the actual clippings. Unfortunately, most of my best work was online only!

    The practice still continues today. Browse through any reporter job posts on journalismjobs and you’ll still see plenty of requests to mail clips or, gasp, fax a resume.

    How quaint!

  4. Frankly, I wouldn’t want to work anywhere that wasn’t comfortable dealing with technology. You’re only doing yourself a disservice by pandering to these attitudes.

  5. HR departments have ruined newspapers. The HR dept where I work instituted a time clock, forced reporters to take lunches, and management has become insane with overtime. The time clock has caused destruction in my opinion

  6. Secondly, any newspaper that wouldn’t even consider me because I believe and enjoy doing multimedia is not worth having me on staff. What a joke. I think you should name these mid-sized newspapers so we can avoid them. Why withhold their identities? Who are they?

  7. If I get a resume without links or at least a CD, I don’t look at it. Clips are nice, and I’m not saying good writing skills don’t matter. They do. But I need folks who can tell a story using a variety of media (hence the term multimedia) and are willing to try new ways.

    I once told some j-school students that I’ve done more writing as a web producer and editor than in my time as a beat reporter. They didn’t believe me, but it’s been true in my experience.

  8. And I thought Poland was left far behind! The worst part is the lady who didn’t have time for web and preferred things on paper. Talking about self-development, revolutions in communication, etc. Does she wait for resumes to arrive by traditional post as well?

  9. Then again, I don’t think I’d want to hire a reporter or editor who wasn’t able to do an end run around the HR folks and find out who’s really doing the hiring.

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