This month from the Center for Sustainable Journalism comes an article about jobs that journalists might hold in the future. I have read through the job titles that the Center gathered from various sources. I'm surprised at my opinions about some of them.
Headline Optimizer: Yes, that would be nice, but there's not much speciation in the newsroom these days. Journalists will continue to confuse headlines with titles, and will apparently forever heap abuse upon the colon. And don't get me started about the vertical bar. A Twitter headline optimizer, however....
Social Media Reporter or Aggregator: Nope. That's not a journalist's job. This is tantamount to retweeting everything from BreakingNews. Individuals who subscribe to social media do their own aggregating. And we're too concerned about privacy to allow someone or something to aggregate for us.
Story Scientist: Yeah, well.... They wouldn't come cheap. Not a job for an intern. This is actually the weakest job title in the list.
Data Detective: There's so much to be done here that it probably needs to be outsourced, probably to the crowd in the cloud, as ProPublica does so adeptly. Data Analysis Manager might be a more realistic title.
Curator in Chief: I'm not sure. Probably too easily confused with aggregator, without special training. I would expect it to be a transient title with a relatively short and easily-forgotten life. And again: we're too concerned with privacy to allow a curator to throw us a lifeline and pull us from the sea of information overabundance.
Explanatory Journalist: It's a cute but redundant title. This is another job that would probably be outsourced instead. I've come to agree with Conrad Black and his assessment that reporters are actually quite stupid. If faced with more than transcribing a police report or assessing the relevancy of a council agenda, reporters will probably play the deadline card. Time was, the larger news organizations invested in specialists who could explain complicated matters. But the structure required for this job lacks foundation: newsrooms are too underfunded to support explanatory journalists. Too bad for us, hunh?
Viral Meme Checker or Viral Video Maker: Really? pause...pause REALLY? I'm thinking about deleting the bookmark. There's so much wrong with this, I-- Moving on.
Slideshow Specialist: I'm all for it. But why the limitation? Why not "Visualist"?
Networker or Engager: This would work if the journalist would build the network first. But the bottom line imposes other priorities, no? Besides, this is a title for everyone in the organization, truck driver through CEO ("publisher" is a title that can die because nobody knows what a publisher does anyway). But in light of the social-media protocols that Scripps imposes on its employees, I believe HR and VPnesses will cripple social engagement.
E-book Creator: Uh...uh.... Hunh? (halfway facepalm)
Web Developer: I have tons of respect for multi-disciplinary approaches to journalism. But to think of a journalist who is also a web developer is just a bit idealistic. What job title would you like for a journalist to have?