There was a great post on Medium the other day that I’ve been mulling over since it was first published and since Medium doesn’t have a commenting system quite yet I thought I’d share my thoughts here instead.
The post, titled Editor, Product Manage Thyself, is an fascinating introspection of a developer turned journalist turned editor and one that I have experience with myself, although I have never considered myself a “journalist” in the typical sense.
One of Paul Smalera’s arguments is that editors now have to be just as much product managers in today’s digital economy since they must be adept with the many tools and applications that require them to do their job.
For example, I use a host of applications to help write and edit for this blog here. It’s to my incredible advantage that I do have a development background and a product background as well since I can create systems that work well for not just myself but also our contributing writers.
Or as Paul shares:
It’s true, today’s editors are overworked and underpaid. And many thought they’d just be pushing copy around, or fixing clauses, or maybe telling a graphic designer how to lay out their page, not deciding how much parity each mobile client should have with the website, or extracting something interesting from a pool of data. Well, tough.
An editor or writer who gets to file her copy into the system and forget about is an editor who is being alienated, in the most Marxist possible way, from the fruits of their labor. That journalist has lost contact with his or her consumer.
Editors need to help craft the way their content gets presented to their readers. They themselves don’t have to be designers, coders or even, strictly speaking, ticket-moving product managers. They do need to have a seat at the same table as those other people, and explain the way their content will be most valuable, come to consensus, and then work with those other colleagues to help spec out, design, build and release the code that can bring that value to the reader.
He’s right – since it’s even more than just being well-versed in great tools for the job – I’m a part of the conversations with the design of the blog, the placement of key features, discussions around functionality and more.
Everything that the reader will see I touch; not just the backend stuff that no one sees except my team. I believe that there’s a small shift that’s occurring as those that are adept at building product find a love and passion for writing about what they love – heck, it may even turn into a full time job. This new class – software developers turned writers, is something crazy-powerful.
There will always be room and a need for classically trained editors, journalists, and the like, but a new class of highly competent product developers-turned writers is making the landscape incredibly interesting. It’s one that I enjoy being a part of because we bring a perspective unlike anything else – we speak digital, we speak product experience, we speak the internet.
Increasing one’s knowledge of web application development, especially WordPress application development, will take you very, very far. Learning to code, even if a little will do you an good and your readers even more.
Think it over. Go product.