I was having a discussion with a journalist the other day about what combination of skills/traits are desirable in a journalist today.

We came up with some interesting thoughts.

According to us, the ideal journalist (without the support of a staff) should:

1. Be a great photographer.
2. Be a great videographer.
3. Be very well-versed in Photoshop and Vegas, not to manipulate images, but to build mashups of photos and videos to supplement stories.
4. Be a near-daily blogger to keep the most loyal readers updated on what she’s doing.
5. Be an active “Twitterer,” Tweeting both her own stories and the stories she wishes she wrote (that is, for creation and curation).
6. Use “bit.ly” links to track how many people click on her stories, so she could talk about how many readers she brings with her to whichever company she writes for.
7. Use Google Analytics or some other tracking software in her blog so she understands which of her story formats were most popular and successful, and she improve her presentation over time.
8. Be comfortable responding to readers in comment fields all across the web, and would setup various alerts to notify her when a reader was talking to her or mentioning one of her stories.
9. Have an online bio where she lays out her modus operandi, her standards, her skills, her background, and what readers should expect of her.
10. Have good grammar.

Personally, I think the only journalists who will have any job security or steady work in the years to come will be those who have a strong personal connection to their most loyal readers.  And to do that they need to understand how to produce stories that are optimized for the Web, not optimized for paper.

PS – If a journalist can do all this, and they manage to build a daily traffic of 2,500 unique visitors, a rough estimate for how much revenue they would get from advertising would be $60,000 a year.  That would be cool, especially because if you’re smart enough to build that level of traffic, you’re probably smart enough to develop other streams of revenue to supplement it.

Will Marlow is the co-creator of AlumniFidelity, which helps schools and nonprofits improve their online fundraising results.  Email him at will@alumnifidelity.com.