The traditional newsroom is the stuff of lore. What do you picture? Haggard, seen-it-all editors shouting about deadlines? Young buck reporters skipping off to cover breaking news? Is everyone smoking cigarettes inside, back when that was still
cool legal? Is there a giant lever located in a secret location labeled “STOP THE PRESSES?”
(Do hackneyed Coldplay songs pipe in from the heavens when major news breaks? I digress … Not an Aaron Sorkin fan, myself.)
Today’s newsroom is still something like that, minus the cigarettes and the big lever. Or it was, two years ago, anyhow, when I last worked in one—the media business changes quickly, as anyone who works in it can verify. New technologies spring up from seemingly nowhere, changing the way we do business virtually overnight.
But certain skills are universal, and translate across disciplines. I didn’t see myself working for a newspaper when I graduated college, but nevertheless, my first job offer came from one. I took the offer. In the year I spent working as a news reporter, covering everything from school levies to community gatherings to drug busts to murders, I gained a lot of experience that I know will be useful for years and years to come.
Skill #1: Deadlines
Yeah, AKHIA has those. Lots of them. “Can we have that by Tuesday?” a client may say, on Monday at 4:45 p.m. And the answer is always “of course.”
Working under tight deadlines was an everyday thing at the newspaper. If the mayor was giving away free turkeys at city hall at noon two days before Thanksgiving, and the front page needed a solid color story for the next morning, I was required to hoof it downtown, talk to the mayor, a turkey recipient or two and file a story within a few hours.
Being able to work quickly and accurately was a big part of the job; and it’s a big part of the job I have now, too.
Skill #2: Switching Gears
The job wasn’t all gravy. Being a general assignment reporter for the first few months on the job (before taking over the police beat) meant covering a little of EVERYTHING. A bank robbery and county fair coverage in the same afternoon? A shooting and a piece on the Kindergarteners school play in the same morning (this was a relatively small paper, with room for kindergarten theater coverage) in one morning? Not out of the question.
At AHKIA, our clients make and do a wide variety of things. That means we have to be able to switch gears smoothly, adapting to different topics and voices when required.
Skill 3: It’s About People
It’s easy to get caught up in all things digital. But the best storytelling still comes from, and is all about, people.
That was certainly true for daily newspaper coverage. And it’s true about everything we do at AKHIA. I’ve worked in a handful of different journalistic environments in my career so far, and it’s remarkable how universal some things are. The ability to be quick and versatile, and especially the ability to connect with people.
B2B communications (a lot of what we do here) don’t necessarily have the reputation of being riveting, but it’s our job to make them so. That means connecting with people on meaningful levels, behind the scenes and through our client service, in our inner workings and our finished products.