Old school editors need not apply

When Meredith publishing president Jack Griffin took the stage this week at a conference and declared, “The Leave it to Beaver America is an...

When Meredith publishing president Jack Griffin took the stage this week at a conference and declared, “The Leave it to Beaver America is an ancient relic,” he wasn’t talking about television programming or moral values.

He meant that fewer households are composed of one working, presumably male, parent, mom at home, and an American-made car out front. Thus, many traditional magazines – Meredith publishes Better Homes and Gardens – have had to adjust, to say the least.

That adaptation process has greatly altered the types of editorial employees that Meredith’s publications hire. Sending a chill down the spine of every editor, reporter, and designer over the age of 24, Griffin reportedly remarked, “We don’t hire editors anymore...we hire content strategists.”

Of course, everyone knows that publishers’ priorities, like advertising dollars, are moving online. However, Griffin’s speech is a clarion call to journalists that they should be prepared to learn new skills - or find new employers.

It’s no longer enough for journalists to apply for an editorial position with only tight news-writing skills, flawless knowledge of Associate Press style, and a knack for placement. Tomorrow’s editors will understand Web site management and usability, interactive content, and the business strategies behind the move online.

And that means less time for sorting through press releases and leads, fact-checking, interaction with reporters, calls to sources, and gathering background information – for better or worse.

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