Easter: a time for skills renewal

18 Apr

sbb-screenLast week I lamented the dark clouds swirling over the profession of journalism; what with the continual layoffs, frequent rejection and criticism from the public, it’s not what most people would consider to be a great job. As with people working in many fields that have been disrupted by the internet, today’s journalists need to learn new skills to remain employable – and competitive – in these turbulent times.

In a religious sense Easter is a time of renewal, but on a personal level I’m also trying to drink my own Kool Aid, which is why I recently took a course on how to use WordPress, the popular software for designing websites. I have a few big projects in the works that I’ll be talking about very soon, but they will all involve the web, hence my interest in the course. Now is as good a time as any to refresh those skills.

For some quick practice, I decided to rejig the site for my book Sex, Bombs and Burgers. The new site, I think, is simple and straightforward, and miles ahead of what I was able to manage five years ago by using iWeb. Have a look and please send along any comments, questions or criticisms. Any feedback will certainly help with what I’m working on next. And have a great Easter!


Posted by on April 18, 2014 in books, media


3 responses to “Easter: a time for skills renewal

  1. Jason Koblovsky

    April 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    New site looks good, but I would recommend to take a course on HTML 5. Freeing yourself and your site from “web editors” will allow you to incorporate a lot more design into your sites. New site still looks “wordpressy”. I’m one to talk lol. I use wordpress too, but don’t have the time to actually design from the bottom right now, but maybe one day.

    Also another thing to think about, those that I know that are hardcore gamers, are also coders. I took journalism first (and will always be my first love), but quickly realized how competitive and uncertain that industry is. I went back to school for computer sciences and never looked back. Quite a few of my old college buddies from journalism have done the same (after showing them what they can do as a coder, and how much money they can make). It’s a challenge to learn how to code, but once you have it down pat, your creative side will never feel lonely. Endless possibilities, and will provide you with life skills beyond the profession. There’s also a huge demand right now for coders, essentially if you learn, you’ll never be without a job.

    Coders are often the “vulcans” of the IT world. Always looking at the logic of everything around you and how to become more efficient with your day to day actives. Your problem solving skills are also enhanced greatly. The training I got in programming has served me quite well outside of cyber space as well.

    • Peter Nowak

      April 18, 2014 at 2:16 pm

      Great points, thanks very much Jason. I’ve been thinking along these lines for some time now and am actually entertaining doing just as you suggest. The crux of the problem for many journalists now is that they/we are trapped in the thinking that they/we only know how to write, but that’s not necessarily true. The solution, I think, is to drill down and find what it is we really enjoy and are good at, then try to find other ways to tap into that. For many journalists, I’d say what they really enjoy is telling stories – the key lies in discovering that there are many ways to do that besides writing, which is just one tool to do so. Coding, as you suggest, is another. Perhaps it’s the modern-day pen and paper?

      • Jason Koblovsky

        April 18, 2014 at 4:54 pm

        I think the best and most accurate way to describe coding is learning a different language. If you are a journalist reporting in Spain, you often rely on interpreters to interpret the language for you. If you know Spanish, than you don’t need to rely on what others are telling you and can go off independently to speak to others who speak Spanish and dig up the stories behind the stories. Sometimes facts get lost in translation. That would be probably the best analogy I could make as it pertains to journalism, and the skills you would have coming out of a coding course as a Journalist. You look upon games in a different light when you are a coder, but you still enjoy a good story line.

        On the tech industry side of things, journalists have a 1up over most, and that is with respect to our communication skills, which are extremely valuable to the tech industry, since most in tech don’t communicate very well outside of their computer screens. That is a skill that’s in high demand right now.

        Once you get over the learning curb, coding can be quite fun and entertaining at times. The satisfaction often comes in solving the most difficult problems, and helping others move forward with future technology and applications. You quite often don’t live in the here and now, but in the future, always trying to predict a highly dynamic and changing environment. Something you’ve already done as a writer. It usually takes years of coding experience to get to that point, so if you already have that ability, combine that with coding, and you’re going to be set on both your skills as journalist, and a great future in IT making lots of money 🙂

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