Attention techies: new job opportunities ahead

As local media companies continue to figure out that data and the Local Web are their future, I think we’re going to see a new type of employee being added to local media properties, and it’s good news for the tech community. Until now, most of the “good” tech jobs within media have come at the corporate level, where media companies have organized and executed their interactive strategies. But as evidence mounts that the flexibility for revenue generation is at the local property level, publishers and general managers are going to want these types of people in the shop instead of across the country at a centralized corporate entity.

The big change coming is in databases and database management. Media companies have lots of ways to gather data, but turning that into profit is a different matter. Local ad serving across a network also will produce tons of data, but what to make of it? What to do with it? I think you’ll see these people hired within the sales departments, because their skills will be used to create value and generate revenue across many platforms.

There’s also continued demand for help at the Web Master level, and I’m not talking about a guy or gal who sits in the corner and writes content pages for the company. What’s ahead is niche verticals, microsite development, social media and other strategic and tactical uses of programming and design skills, and again, the boss is not going to be satisfied without such skills in the building. Many companies have “gotten lucky” with a local hire here or there, but the demand for these kinds of skills as the local property level is going to continue unabated for many years to come.

Of course, the biggest help media companies need is within sales, for the selling of TV or print ad space is a whole different animal that helping local advertisers with the Web. I fully expect the skill level of account executives will be going up, up, up in the years ahead, as they take on a more consultative role in enabling local commerce via the Web. Sales people with this kind of knowledge can write their own ticket with media companies, and I don’t see that changing in the years ahead.

Everybody knows that print’s future is seriously in jeopardy, and now comes similar thoughts being expressed about broadcasting in the wake of Oprah Winfrey’s announcement that she’s leaving the world of syndicated TV in 2011. The New York Times notes that this and many other factors have observers concerned.

Most analysts and many executives agree that the economic model of broadcast television — which relies much more heavily on advertising than cable — is severely fractured. What they are wondering now is if it is irreparably broken.

Clearly, the future for local media is the Local Web, and that means a more technologically-oriented staff. Techies who’ve cut their employment teeth with start-ups and other Web companies will find themselves increasingly welcomed in the buildings that house traditional media companies.

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