‘I See Things on Other Publication’s Web Sites That I Have No Idea How To Do’

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By Rachel Kaufman Comment

Earlier this year ASPBE released preliminary results of a survey examining the digital divide at B2B publications: namely, these publications’ editors are largely left to their own devices when it comes to getting digital training, and at some pubs, it shows.

ASBPE has now released the full survey, available here (PDF), and it includes (anonymous) comments from some of these editors.

Some people have the “It’s not my problem” attitude: “At our publications, the editors (me and others) merely provide materials; others do the actual converting to digital formats,” said one survey respondent. Another: “I edit content, regardless of where the content is used, and thus do not focus on digital issues.” (But digital isn’t just about “converting” to a “format”–it’s a way of thinking.)

Others seem like they’re doing okay, actually: “I have the skills I need to do everything required of me for our print and online products. As they evolve, so will my skills.” And here’s a plug for Medill: “A Medill education (even one that is 8 years past graduation) prepared me to be thinking digitally all the time.” “We started early and invested in digital upgrades.”

Yet other editors sound a bit helpless. “Hard to keep up with every wave of new stuff like Twitter,” said one respondent. “I feel un-trained and flying by the seat of my pants,” said another, who added, “But then, my publication’s management is way worse than me.”

Then there’s the hapless guy (or gal) we quoted in the title: “I know nothing about Twitter, tweet, videos, etc. I see things on other publication’s [sic] Web sites that I have no idea how to do.”

Our heart goes out to this person. And the person who said “I’m continually identifying digital ideas and best practices that cannot get implemented due to manpower or resource issues.” And the person who said “We’re too lean to try anything different.”

Sadly, this story is not unique to business-to-business publications. Everywhere there are publications throwing untrained people into jobs because “we have to do digital.” Which is probably true, but setting someone up to fail because they don’t know what they’re doing isn’t fair either.

On the bright side, when asked to rank priorities for the coming months, “downsizing editorial staff” ranked lowest out of 16.