The employees and management of traditional newspapers have an entirely new set of skills they must learn to be relevant, to compete and to adapt as new ways to gather, organize and present news and information become available every day.
Providing access to comprehensive training and the time and motivation to do it, however, have remained a mystery for most news organizations.
The Digital Ninja School is our attempt to make training and applying that training to the job an integral part of the newsroom culture.
The premise is simple:
– We’ve identified five areas we think are key areas of knowledge for every newsroom employee – Digital Publishing, Social Media, Blogging, Video and Data Journalism. The program is modeled on a martial arts-style “belt” system. You earn a “white belt” for the first category you master, a “yellow belt,” for the second, right up to becoming a “black belt digital ninja” for completing the entire program.
– We’re paying employees extra money to participate in training. Each employee – managers included – is eligible to receive up to $2,000 this year for completing the Digital Ninja School program ($100 for the first “belt,” $200 for the second, $300 for the third, $400 for the fourth and $1,000 for the final, “black belt”).
– To earn a belt, you must complete a core set of training as well as electives of your own choosing. You must show that you’ve applied your new skills to the job, and demonstrate how that has impacted the metrics around your work (page views, unique visitors, more or better story sources, reader engagement, etc.). To earn a second belt, you must show that you are continuing to use the skills learned from your first belt, and so on.
– We’re using DigitalNinjaSchool.com to blog about how employees are using their new skills on the job, and each example is tagged and categorized to develop online portfolios for the students of the Digital Ninja School, as well as a repository of real-life examples for others who are learning about a specific topic, for example, how to work with Google Maps. It is also being used to aggregate links to training resources, both internally produced and available on the web from other sources.
– Beyond the up to $2,000 in bonuses employees can receive this year for completing the program, we believe the Digital Ninja School will position graduates for career advancement and tens of thousands of dollars in additional earning potential.
The Digital Ninja School is only for Connecticut newsroom employees of Journal Register Company at this point, but we hope that by making DigitalNinjaSchool.com a public website, others from across JRC, Digital First Media and journalists from outside the company can take advantage as we discover training resources and put new skills to use.
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