The problem in publishing
Everyone at the editorial roundtable I attended seemed to be focusing on how to get more from a tight editorial team when you can’t hire more people and the content bar is constantly rising. So when I said, “Oh my problem is hiring people who can write solid, detailed business how-to content quickly and concisely for online publication, I’m looking for several and I’m in hiring hell.”… everyone started sputtering.
The editors around the table definitely thought I was a clueless jerk. “There are so many good people looking for work! I turn them away!,” said one. “I find the problem isn’t with the writers, it’s with the training the publication gives them,” noted another.
Afterwards though, a few people on the publisher-end came up to me individually to say, “You are right, you know. It’s almost impossible to find really good newsletter writers. There are lots of would-bes, but few home runs.” So I felt a lot better.
This rings completely true to me, as InnovationWorld is finding business everywhere because there is so little in the way of good business intelligence available today and, simultaneously, it is very difficult to find writers, many of whom have long resumes from the bubble era, that have the basic reporting skills that translate into solid analytical writing. For instance, when InnovationWorld advertised for a writer/researcher, I got more than 600 resumes. Half were poorly written (by writers!) and two-thirds were totally unqualified based on the requirements laid out in the ad. Of the writers I did interview, fewer than half understood the basics of sourcing a story, doing research in anticipation of an interview (most reporters who came up in the bubble seem to have specialized in listening to CEOs and writing down what they said without asking critical questions), and how to assemble those facts into a straightforward narrative.
Sure, I may sound like an asshole, but as an editor I’ve got two responsibilities: 1.) To my company, for whom I have to fix these problems or move onto another writer, and; 2.) To the writers, whom I have an obligation to help get better at their jobs. For those of you out there thinking about how to break into the newsletter business or research/journalism in general, get back to basics every time you start a story.[RatcliffeBlog: Business, Technology & Investing]