Grad school post: The pyramids of journalistic competence and success

John Wooden created the pyramid of success which is widely used by coaches across the country for young athletes.
It was the first thing that popped into my head when I started reading about the pyramid of journalism competence.

The 10-block approach to organize skills journalists need to have is dead on and valuable. However, there are character traits which are just as important. New media platforms have changed the way information is gathered, sourcing is done, stories are written, and news is shared. This makes some of the attributes of Wooden’s athletes just as important to the modern journalist. In Wooden’s pyramid, SKILL doesn’t even appear until the middle of the third level. Wooden set the foundation of being a great person before a great basketball player. Success happens mostly by having character attributes first, which then impact the use of skill.

The cornerstone of the Pyramid of Success is industriousness. That is a trait that should be present in a journalist who is contemplating news judgement, but it’s not always there. “There is no substitute for handwork,” Wooden said and this is especially true in the journalistic world. The lack of handwork makes it impossible to execute more complex news stories.

The importance of character cannot be over-stated in today’s journalistic realm. The desire to be known or a rock-star rather than a noble, diligent byline has never been greater. With it comes the temptation to take short cuts with diligence or ethics. The result is damaging to the entire journalism community.

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