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June 10, 2010, noon

An opening at the Nieman Journalism Lab

If you’re a dedicated Lab reader, you may be the right person to be a Lab writer. We have a brand-new opening for an assistant editor here at the Nieman Journalism Lab. Read the description here. But beyond the formalities, the person we’re looking for will have three major qualities.

First and foremost, you need to be an excellent reporter: digging up stories, working beats, tracking down journalistic innovation, figuring out what’s new and important in the future of news. You know how to spot a hot one and how to turn it into a story. You ask the right people the right questions. And you’re already dedicated to staying on top of the latest goings-on in the space, through rigorous reading and social media. (You probably spend a not-insignificant chunk of time in Google Reader and/or on Twitter each day, and you like it.)

Second, you’ve got to be an excellent writer. Writing stories for the Lab isn’t exactly the same as writing news stories for a traditional outlet — but it also isn’t the same as writing a blog with your own personality high-beams on. The voice and tone we’ve developed in our 19 months of existence is important to us, and you’ll need to be able to write clean copy that both grabs the audience and respects its time.

Third, you have to be a nerd. I don’t mean you have to be a coder (although, hey, great if you are) or a multiplatform, multimedia wiz (although, hey, etc.). I do mean that you’re the kind of person who geeks out about the things we write about here. You’re engaged with the theory and the practice of online journalism. You’ve read some Shirky, some Rosen, maybe some Schudson — for fun. Maybe you can drop a well-timed Habermas reference into dinner conversation. (Okay, I’m going too far here: thoughts on Habermas a plus, but not required.) You have a favorite journalism startup. You’re not a curmudgeon, but you understand their point of view. You don’t just know about MinnPost, ProPublica, Talking Points Memo, EveryBlock, or — you’ve got thoughts about them. If asked, you could recite three arguments for and against paywalls.

In other words, you care about all this stuff — it matters to you, and it occupies your thoughts in ways that go beyond just wanting a job.

That’s the kind of person we want around here. If you’ve got those three qualities, just about anything else is negotiable; anyone from a veteran reporter with decades of experience to some punk 22-year-old could be right for the job.

We’ve got some awesome projects in the works, which this person would have a significant role in building (beyond the usual reporting and writing you see on the site today). Working at Harvard is awesome, with as many big brains within a five-mile radius as you’ll find anywhere. Spring, summer, and fall in Boston are amazing, and winter — well, lots of ski slopes nearby. The pay’s pretty good, the benefits are great, and we’re a fun place to work. If you’re intrigued, apply.

Finally, three very important notes:

Do not email me your resume. To be considered, you must apply through the Harvard HR system, at the link above. I’ll get your resume through that system, don’t worry; emailing me resumes directly will just make me cranky. (If you have an actual question about the job, feel free to email me, but don’t do so just to promote yourself as a candidate.)

— I’d like to get moving on this position quickly. So if you’re interested, please get your application in by early next week — by Tuesday, June 15 if at all possible. The posting will disappear from the Harvard site some time not too long after that.

— Also, you’ll note that the official job listing describes this as a one-year term appointment, expiring June 30, 2011. That’s technically true, but many (nearly all, I believe) Harvard jobs of this type are officially run as a series of one-year term appointments. If we’re happy with the work being done (and barring any surprise funding issues), our hope/expectation is that this person could stay well beyond that one year.

Joshua Benton is the senior writer and former director of Nieman Lab. You can reach him via email ( or Twitter DM (@jbenton).
POSTED     June 10, 2010, noon
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