Local Edition: We need to learn how to find the stories no one else is telling.

This piece originally appeared in Local Edition, our newsletter following the digital transformation of local news. Want to be part of the conversation? You can sign up here.


Last week, I got an interesting email.

Jeff Forward, editor of The Oskaloosa (Iowa) Herald, saw the call for ideas of what people need to learn, how they make that happen and how they share that with their newsrooms.

His newsroom has offered trainings, but Jeff wants to learn more about video editing. So, he asked, what if you pretty much have zero resources: An old personal computer, no internet at home and no extra money for tools?

"Even if I did have the tech capabilities to learn this stuff, I cannot do it at work because, well, I am working," he wrote in the email.

I asked for some ideas for Jeff on Twitter, and he got a few good responses. (If you have more, let him know!) You may have a computer and phone that you can work with, but for a lot of us, time and money are still big issues that might keep us from catching and keeping up.

Next week, we'll dig more into how to find time, resources and, hopefully, how to make the case to your newsroom that building new skills should happen while you're working. While next week is usually the week we talk with a newsroom boss, I'm going to change things up a bit and talk with a newsroom skills pro instead. Amy Kovac-Ashley is the American Press Institute's senior newsroom learning program manager. She works with newsrooms around the country to discover what skills are missing and how to build them.

For now, here are other skills some of you brought up.

Mark Plenke is a journalism professor and the student newspaper advisor at California State University, Chico. He echoed what we heard last week:

Basic writing skills come up frequently when we talk about what we need to learn. It's a good reminder that being a Twitter ninja isn't enough. Prem Panicker, who covers cricket, agreed:

Russ Bengtson, who writes for Complex, brought up one that still makes a lot of us squirm:

Pete Skiba, a writer in Cocoa Beach, Florida, emailed with one he wished he'd followed (and we thank you for the plugs, Pete): "One key to getting ahead (whatever that means – to me it always meant learning to report and write better) is simply not allowing editors to get under the skin. Don't take it personal. Go with the good ones. Smile to yourself at the bad ones. Read and study Roy's books, attend Poynter in person and via NewsU, read good journalism, the Pulitzer winners are available, and keep faith in yourself."

Finally, James D.E. Jackson, a freelance writer in Ontario, brought up one that's always mattered but matters even more now when there's so much noise:

Thanks to everyone who joined the conversation. Come back next week and we'll see what we can learn from someone who works with newsroom skills for a living.

In the meantime, go learn something from Victor Hernandez and Greg Retsinas on live streaming. There's still time to apply for the Poynter-NABJ 2017 Academy for Diversity in Digital Media. And if you haven't seen it already, check out CJR's lovely tribute to hometown newspapers.

See you next week!


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