Why Being a Jack of All Trades is No Longer a Choice But a Necessity

Posted on September 30, 2013

In my first year of journalism school, we were all taught a sobering lesson: traditional journalism as we knew it was dead.

TV stations could no longer equip everybody with their own cameraman, boom operator or assistant. International publications were cutting back on all those sought-after foreign correspondent jobs.

If you wanted to make news, you had to go out there with your notebook, camera and mic and get it yourself.

It was with this in mind that my classmates and I were all taught to write, edit, record and present our own stories from the very first pitch to the final production package.

We were taught not only how to produce online content, but to create the platform from which it was published.

It was a very Jack of All Trades approach, as the industry was contracting and journalists were now expected to be able to hold their own without all the trappings their fore bearers had enjoyed.

The terrain was moving in favor of freelancers, contractors and those who could get the job done with the fewest number of people and company resources.

No room for the one trick pony

Today’s blogosphere is similar in a lot of ways.

There’s very little room for the humble writer, equipped only with pen, paper and intellectual genius. You need to be a writer cum social media guru, part-time programmer, budding graphic designer, marketing specialist and the list goes on.

The pitfalls of this particular situation are easy to spot, and are primarily based around the generalist versus specialist debate.

But, budget cuts aside, there are also some very compelling pros for a more multi-faceted approach:

1) Maintaining your creative vision from beginning to end

Having creative direction of a brand or blog from the content right down to the fonts, is a liberating (read terrifying) position to be in as you have free reign to direct, format and build from the ground up. Sure, there’ll be times when you need to delegate a complex task or two, but having a good grasp of your project on all levels is an incredible advantage.

2) You don’t need to be a pro to be efficient

The elements of Photoshop are comprehensive enough and, with the help of scripting software like WordPress, you no longer need to be a programming prodigy to set up a website. Getting your head around the basics of social media doesn’t require a three year degree, just take the time to read up, practice and observe.

3) You never stop learning

Want to try your hand at some coding? Feel like diving into some advanced marketing theory? Adding another trick to the toolbox will not only enhance your existing knowledge, but open you up to a whole new range of skills to dabble in. And once you find out how one thing works, don’t you just want to go ahead and figure out the rest while you’re at it?

photo credit: nettsu via photopin cc


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