Want to swap jobs with the editor? You sure about that?

My wife and I generally have vastly different TV tastes.

I read a book or turn to my tablet as she works her way through sci-fi series and American crime dramas, and she leaves the room when The Apprentice comes on.

But we have always been hooked on the Channel 4 programme Undercover Boss, and loved its great-uncle, the BBC series Back to the Floor.

Both get the most senior managers of big organisations back on to the shopfloor to learn lessons about how their businesses or charities are doing.

It is well over 20 years since I was a reporter, pure and simple.

But in January, I plan to spend a few days back at the coalface, making I sure I still know what I’m talking about when I train others in this fast-changing profession of ours.

Over the last two decades, I have continued to write stories and to embrace web techniques and social media.

But my active experience is disappearing into the past with every day I spend on my new job as a trainer.

So it’s important for my credibility to keep my knowledge and skills up to date.

Today, one of the editors I work with was talking about how she was forced to de-rust her reporting skills after a talks-about-talks meeting with the mother of a convicted killer unexpectedly turned into a compelling interview about her son.

And I was in another office last week where a reporter was desperately trying to persuade either her news editor or editor to do a job swap.

There is no doubt that being a reporter now is far harder than it was a couple of decades ago.

Technology now makes getting in touch with people, receiving information, and finding out about breaking news very much easier.

But the weight of public expectations, the digital workload, and the tendency of many public sector leaders to hide behind press offices and speak-your-weight-machine blandness have conspired with a long-term reduction in staffing to counteract those advantages.

It’s not just reporters whose jobs have changed, though.

The role of the modern editor has been transformed so that he or she is now likely to have their own income generation targets, to be out many nights of the week, to be responsible for more titles and to deal with all manner of work that in previous years would have been done by departments long since abolished.

He or she will undoubtedly have greater responsibility than ever before – but also far less room for manoeuvre.

I’m all for job swaps, and for encouraging bosses to experience life at the sharp end.

But reporters may just find themselves rather keener than they thought to return to their own desks.

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One thought on “Want to swap jobs with the editor? You sure about that?

  1. It was more about challenging the news editor or editor to cover one of the reporters next time they’re off on holiday.

    Honestly, I’d rather remove my eyes with a melon baller than do the editor’s job, even for a minute.

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