Does your job title matter?
Perhaps. Traditionally it mattered. The pay scales at many businesses reflect titles and descriptors like “senior” and “vice president” and “director.” Bank loan officers surely treated CEOs with more respect than fry cooks. Now, of course, the tech savants spend days trying to outdo themselves with stupid, meaningless titles that can only lead to confusion in corporate halls. Microsoft has an “Innovation Sherpa.” There is a “Digital Prophet” at AOL. Chances are, if you don’t know what the title means, there ain’t much real work attached. (If you have too much time on your hands, generate your own title...)
What about journalism titles? Does it really matter whether you are called “managing editor” or “editor?” About the names of beat? Do they matter?
I ask because of this collection of thoughts from Ken Doctor at the Nieman site. It riffs off Gannett’s “newsroom of the future” idea.
I offer two thoughts:
First, I think some journalism titles are stifling. A “cops reporter” is only going to write breaking news about crime. There is a place for that, but what if you called her “health and safety reporter” instead? If that was her title, would she have a wider understanding of her role and perhaps offer stories that hadn’t already been tweeted before she picks up the phone to find out what happened at the crime scene? I like relatively open-ended beat titles – community, education, family, safety – rather than cops and courts and government. I think it leads to fewer process stories and more stories about people. …
Secondly, there are words applied to the digital world that I don’t like. Chief among them, “content.” To me, that sounds like a commodity. I know there are people in the digital space who think of all content being equal (or worse, that content is judged solely on the number of eyeballs that view it.) I like “engagement” and other such new-fangled terms that convey the message of creating community. Just don’t call me a content editor, please.