List of requirements for a digital story designer

The job title given in the advertisement is “digital news developer.” These are the requirements:

  • College degree
  • Minimum of 2 years programming experience
  • Advanced command of HTML5, CSS, JavaScript (including jQuery)
  • Light Ruby or Python for data mining, Web scraping
  • Comfort with data analysis
  • Understanding of responsive design
  • Familiarity with Final Cut Pro and Adobe InDesign

This is a very reasonable list, in my opinion, and the ad copy is good overall. It is not the kind of “computer jesus” job description that Sean Blanda blasted in 2008. What’s the likelihood that the McClatchy Company (which publishes 30 daily newspapers) will find a perfect person to hire? I’m not sure. And will the salary be good enough? Washington, D.C., is an expensive area to live in.

Those concerns aside, what does this list say to journalism educators? And to journalism students who love design?

Is this a job for a person who has a degree in computer science? Absolutely not. You will not learn those skills in a computer science program.

I think the only regrettable thing about this intriguing job ad is the job title. A better title would be something like “storytelling architect.”

Recently I was discussing with a few colleagues the value of design courses in the journalism curriculum. One colleague noted that maybe the j-school is not really the correct place for such courses. Even though traditional design skills — such as how to use typography, color, and white space — are still hugely important in digital and print design alike, those skills are taught in the graphic design program in the College of Fine Arts. But where in the university will the student learn about responsive design and storytelling?

Look again at that skills list. This really is a journalism job. It’s not an art job. It’s not a programming job.

6 Comments on “List of requirements for a digital story designer

  1. I think this ad is for a “data specialist” who can also do some journalistic work. The main product of journalism schools, on the other hand, is “storytelling or news reporting specialist” who can do some data work. That said, I’m afraid j-schools are not the best or typical place to find such a hire.

  2. Pingback: Is this a journalism job? | Alex Gamela

  3. Hi, Mindy. Thanks for highlighting the job listing! I had some help thinking it through and writing it from people who do this work and understood what we were seeking. As it turns out, we *did* find the perfect person for the job (if not the perfect title). Stay tuned…
    — Julie Moos, Senior Digital Editor, McClatchyDC

  4. Julie – That’s great! I hope we’ll see a profile (maybe on Nieman Lab?) and some fine new work soon!

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