Online Titles at N.C. Papers Skew Toward Editing

June 4th, 2008; 8:00 am by Ryan Thornburg

In the survey of people who work online at N.C. newspapers, respondents were asked to categorize themselves by a general job field and then by a more specific job title. They could chose from 10 job fields and 84 titles. We selected these fields and titles from a list of 237 job titles and detailed descriptions that The Croner Company used in its 2007 Online Content and Service Compensation Survey. All 84 job titles and their detailed descriptions can be seen here.

I previously discussed the responses to the job field question. And, it’s no surprise that the high rate and sheer number of responses from the Asheville Citizen-Times also skews the job title findings toward the “writing” field. As we dig deeper in to the findings, it will be interesting to see what duties and skills those writers have — whether they tend toward the “traditional” or the “new”.

Overall, we had 56 people answer the question about their job titles. Those 56 people chose 24 different job titles for themselves. That comes out to 2.3 people per title, which doesn’t really help us in our quest to standardize titles. Bummer.

Including Asheville, the most popular job titles were:

  • Writer - 14%
  • Manager, Content - 11%
  • Editor - 11%
  • None of the Above - 9%

The remaining 55% of responses were scattered across 20 categories.

They were:

  • Producer
  • Group Head of Online Units/General Manager
  • Columnist/Blogger
  • Senior Producer
  • Multimedia Editor
  • Multimedia Producer
  • Senior Writer
  • Senior Designer
  • Designer
  • Director, Content
  • Senior Editor
  • Managing Editor
  • Vice President, Online Unit/General Manager
  • Executive Editor
  • Senior Multimedia Producer
  • Video Producer
  • Photographer
  • Technical Producer
  • Webmaster
  • Database developer

I also ran some numbers without Asheville, where 63% of respondents said they were Writers. Content Manager and Editor remained tied for the top spot, with 20% each. The rest of the titles were scattered.

Then — because the choices that respondents had for their titles were first limited by the choices they made for their fields — I looked to see whether there was any sort of “cross-field” categories that could be created. The best example of that is “multimedia editor” which could have either been in the multimedia field or the editor field, but was only available from the multimedia field.

When I did that, here’s what I found (The numbers here add up to more than 100% because I didn’t force responses in to a single category. In other words, I allowed multimedia editors to be both editors and multimedia people.):

Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they were some sort of “producer” or “content manager.” Thirty-seven percent had the word “editor” in their title. Twenty-seven percent said they were either some sort of multimedia, video or technical staffer. Twenty-three percent said they were in management. Seventeen percent were mostly writing. And seven percent were in design.

I begin to think two things when I look at these findings. First, that I’ve probably somehow missed a lot of photographers who are doing editorial work for the Web. Photographers were some of the earliest traditional newspaper staffers to lead the charge in to multimedia presentation and programming.

The second thing I see in these findings is that people who are hired to work in online news — not including the traditional journalists in shops like Asheville that are completely converged, at least on the masthead — are primarily text slingers. They edit, layout and otherwise manipulate words that are written by other people.

As we look in more detail at the skills and duties these journalists say they perform regularly, we’ll get a better idea whether that second suspicion is true. Stay tuned, dear reader.

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