Silicon Beach: Geeks and Writers Mix Like Oil and Water

A friend of mine looking for writing jobs recently expressed her frustration on Twitter about skill requirements:  "This makes me *so* angry: Why do people hiring writers expect us to do web design? That's what a graphic/web designer is for."

The job posting she was referring to is on and not only requires "mastery of the English language and AP style" but also audio, video and image editing experience on Final Cut as well as a "strong grasp" of metrics and search engine optimization (SEO), among other cross-over skills.

It isn't news that newspapers are on their deathbeds and that journalists need to be multimedia savvy; however, this job isn't for a newspaper, but for a financial industry company.  My friend didn't go to journalism school, but she is a professional writer.

Her rant continued on Twitter: "You know why it angers me? Because it

comes off as making writing alone seem 2 easy to be a job that deserves

a good salary."

Silicon Beach couldn't agree more.  It isn't

enough that you have to write a good story these days, but you also

have to do stuff that geeks are good at and should get paid to do. 

Such requirements are insulting to writers.

No doubt there are

folks who are multi-talented, but writers don't go to school to learn

Final Cut or SEO.  And SEO masters, for example, excel at getting your

website to rank high on Google, but aren't wordsmiths trained in the

craft of copy.

Why should one person do two jobs?  Unless you're

a freak genius, being a jack of all trades probably means you're also a

master of none.  And every writer knows that focusing on everything but

the writing means forgoing the care and scrutiny required to make those

words shine.

Writers should focus on making things sound good,

designers on making things look good and developers on making things

work well.

Of course, it's more economical for a cheap employer

to squeeze the creative lifeblood out of a single employee, and this is

probably why you see some amazing websites out there with crappy


This should be a supreme embarrassment for any

business. Bad copy translates into poor consumer confidence, just like

buttons that don't work, broken links and ugly graphics.  The second a

potential customer has to think twice about a sentence, you've probably

lost a sale.   All the beautiful code in the world isn't going to

matter to the end-users who visit your website and get confused by what

they read.

Coders write a different language. It's a functional

language you don't see, it's what makes websites and mobile phone

applications do things.  Website copy is the emotional language, the

one that calls people to action.  

Expecting a writer's writer

to get involved in too many technical aspects of an internet property

ultimately puts a company at a disadvantage.  Unfortunately, it's not

the first time Silicon Beach has heard about a writing job that asks a

wordsmith to do everything but screw the janitor at a piss-poor fee.

Web development companies out there should take heed:  hire writers to write. Heck, even hire an editor to help out the writer if it's a really big project.  Get your writers and editors to work with

your geeks on the overall project.  One should not replace the other

and both are intrinsically valuable on a creative team.  Don't make

geeks write and don't make writers play geek.

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