Monday, October 22, 2012

An advertisement for an editor I would never employ

This isn’t a suicide note, except I suppose as far as MSN is concerned. What the hell. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. The original job ad is here. It’s below, with my commentary in italics.

Digital news producer/journalist – Sydney

The (US) News team has an opening for a savvy and seasoned editor based in Sydney. [RC: The author hasn’t heard of Jay Rosen’s opinion of “savvy”, it seems. This idiotic characteristic is in the lead: someone with a spoonful of brains might actually be looking for “capable”.]

The successful candidate will work with other US editors [“Other” US editors? Hang on, this is a Sydney position. We’re still Australia, when I last checked.] in creating and, then, leading editorial decision making and execution on what is expected to become one of the largest news sites in the world. [The entire sentence, sorry paragraph, descends into a mishmash. Rewrite.]

The position includes day-to-day editorial programming, including decisions on which content to surface [“surface” as a verb. I am flexible about language, but this is an abomination. It means “what we’re going to publish”, so why not say so? This usage merely suggests “inflation by flatulence] for the MSN audience. Overnight [overnight - you didn't mention THAT before. Whose night? Oh, I get it: the entirity of the role is to deliver gimcrack stories for American insomniacs] editors are expected to have superb news judgment, understand and enact our news philosophy and work independently doing daily word, picture and video editing primarily from wire services. [“Primarily from wire services”, ie, no actual journalism, taken from what is frequently the world’s greatest source of urban myth, the newswire.]

Our team will work to successfully deliver high quality news experiences [not “high quality news”, because that needs money and work. We just want you to be savvy. You know. Pick the RIGHT story to surface. Get the hit magnet going. Paris Hilton, Nude, and Windows 8 together in a headline, please] using both data and previous journalism knowledge [If you can parse this last clause, you’re either a genius or a complete sucker for jargon. “Data journalism”,  for example, means “research, basic numeracy, and a knack for “infographics”, one of the many ways in which “savvy” becomes a debasement of information.]

MSN News will uniquely [“uniquely”? when your stuff is “primarily wire sources”? Does this mean I can spice up the wire story with the use of the word “fuck” to make it unique?] focus on what the wider web audience [it’s called the “World Wide Web”, cretin. If it’s available, it has a “wider” audience] [By the way: how about some style consistency? – Web either has a capital, or it does not.] is looking for in its news consumption and deliver against those needs [maybe it’s just me, but expressing “desires we don’t even know we have” as “needs” is just stupid]. We work in a fast-paced, 24-7-365 publishing environment [ie, “life”, except you won’t have one because we’ll spring meaningless conference calls on you at 2am], and candidates should be versatile in both tasks performed and topic expertise [ie, equal ignorance in every possible subject]. This is a full-time Microsoft position.

Candidates must be seasoned writers/editors with at least three years of experience in a daily publishing environment, and at least two years working in Web-based publishing. They should possess strong communication and partnering skills [I think this means “don’t piss off advertisers”. Or perhaps “sleep with selected contacts”], and be able to work effectively across groups, to work under pressure and to manage strict deadlines [journalists who can’t manage deadlines and pressure are called “taxi drivers”]. Candidates must be detail-oriented [I am, which is why this entire advertisement falls somewhere between “travesty” and “atrocity”, with a gentle nod towards “utter arsehat”], highly organized, self-motivated and resourceful. They must also have a thorough understanding of Web publishing — including Web behaviour, Web culture and what does and doesn’t work from a consumer point of view — as well as a passion for Web publishing. Strong news judgment and knowledge of US current events/popular culture is essential [If I ever understand US popular culture, I will kill myself. I presume that the most abhorrent usages in this advertisements accurately reflect US popular culture; you understand why I object. I hope.]. This position requires a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism or equivalent in a related field. [Bachelor in Churnalism Rewrites from Unreliable Wires. Which university?]

This role will take its lead from the MSN News US Weekend/Overnight Editor.
Sydney 2000
[Presumably the postcode, not the year. I don’t think we’d verbed “surface” by 2000.]

And of course, the advertisers want someone “seasoned” on three years’ experience: in other words: someone who will pick SEO-friendly drivel and work at Mechanical Turk rates. But when you burn out, you’ll get to apply for jobs that say “previous experience as an editor”.


Peter Bowditch said...

I think I saw the same advertisement. I seem to remember having the same reaction. Imagine having to work with these people if that's the house style.

But it probably pays $40 an hour, so filing those five rewritten wire stories every night between 11 and 3 will be very lucrative and satisfying.

Brigid said...

Why be so snobby? It's a job. In journalism - where people in other media companies are being made redundant left, right and centre. I have worked for this company and found it a great place to work. At least they are investing in Australian journalists.