At the Carnegie/Paley conference’s session on entrepreneurial journalism just now, Jeff Jarvis asked his panelists to engage in a ‘lightning round,’ briefly answering the same question. That question: What is the one skill or approach that journalists need to have, and develop, right now?
Here’s what they answered:
Phil Balboni, GlobalPost: “Prepare yourself to be a small businessman or businesswoman”; build—and market—your individual brand. Journalists need to have “hustle and entrepreneurship” about themselves. (Later, he adds: “Face the reality as it is and make it work for you. And go out there and do things…. I’m an optimist about the profession. People can make it work and make things happen.”)
John Harris, Politico: “Find your distinctive value”—what skill or interest or talent distinguishes you from everyone else—“and learn how to market that.” (Later: a brand, he clarifies, isn’t about “making yourself as famous as you can”; it’s about finding/developing your particular expertise and exploiting it.)
Rafat Ali, ContentNext: Develop “subject matter expertise”—and “passion” for that subject matter.
John Thornton, Texas Tribune: Hustle. “Whether it’s networks or whatever…what you do uniquely well, what you really know, you have to hone.” But: “you’re going to have to be pretty promiscuous about how you monetize it.”
Geneva Overholser, USC Annenberg: Have “the expectation that you’ll be a collaborator”—and the mindset that individual journalists are part of a broader network and ecosystem. Also: have an “openness to new methods, new platforms, new technologies”: journalists need to be promiscuous not just about marketing and monetizing their work, but about how they produce that work in the first place.Megan Garber is an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University. She was formerly a CJR staff writer.