'Content is not equal' and other thoughts on productivity

The Buttry Diary

On Tuesday, Steve Buttry, director of student media at Louisiana State University, wrote about "digital productivity expectations" on his blog, The Buttry Diary. Buttry includes several tips on how editors and reporters should think about their time and what they create. Some of these, he points out, haven't changed just because our platforms have.

I remember two instances in my career — once when I was an editor and once when I was a reporter — when people above me thought it would be productive to judge reporters by counting their bylines. That was foolish then and it’s foolish now.

Units of journalistic content are not equal in their value or in the work required to produce them. I never produced the most stories among my reporting colleagues at the Omaha World-Herald. But I was probably among the leaders in producing page-one stories (I didn’t keep track) and I was certainly among the leaders in producing page-one Sunday stories. Some of my stories took a lot of time and work to produce, but I was doing the types of stories my editors wanted me to. The type and quality of stories was more important to my editors and me than the number.

Buttry points out another thing that hasn't changed from print to digital - like content, journalists and beats are not equal.

...A breaking news reporter, a sports beat reporter, a data journalist, a feature writer, an investigative reporter and a city hall reporter have different jobs and their expectations should vary. An education reporter should have different expectations during the summer than during the school year. The sports beat reporter has different expectations during the season than in the off-season.

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