BBC ShishkinEvery week we ask a leading figure in digital news about their work, their career and what it takes to be a journalist in the 21st century.

Our guest this week is Dmitry Shishkin, digital development editor for BBC World Service. He gave us an insight into the skills required in his role, and explained how his job allows him to learn something new on a daily basis.

What is your job title and what does that mean?

I am digital development editor for BBC World Service, which means I am responsible for the digital transformation of the 28 foreign language services run by BBC News.

My team sits between the editorial teams on the one hand, and the product or technical teams on the other, and my job is to align both camps to pull in the same direction ensuring best practice, production excellence and editorial innovation, and hitting targets.

This includes mobile, social, data, visual journalism fields and many more. I do a lot of internal change management and am trying to bring as many external things into the BBC as possible.  

How did you get started in journalism?

I graduated with honours from Moscow State University, specialising in international journalism for TV and radio. My ambition was to become a foreign correspondent – apart from English, I also studied Spanish and Serbian.

However, the real reason I got into journalism was because I was a big fan of a famous Russian TV presenter, who was a great all-rounder and fronted The Wheel of Fortune. So, naturally, I wanted to present that (and do some journalism on the side!)  

What do you most look forward to at the start of your day?

The diverse portfolio I am privileged to be involved with means that my day is never the same – I enjoy switching from macro to micro topics and I do that a lot during my day.

Plus, 28 language services expose me to all stages of digital development and transformation across the world and I am learning something new every hour of my day.

I equally enjoy interacting with product, development and design teams. My job takes me to lots of remote places across the world and I enjoy that a lot too. 

What does a normal day look like for you? In emoji.

shishkin emoji

What three tools or apps do you use most for work?

Google Drive, Slack and – because I am working in a matrix environment – I really would like to start using Trello in 2016. I am trying to read Quartz, Vox and the Economist Espresso app regularly, BBC News and BBC Sport, naturally.  

What would you focus on if you were training as a journalist now?

Data and video skills are really important, plus coding, of course – so many things can be done if you are friends with those.

Another important point is to always keep across what 15-year olds are up to when it comes to digital – appealing to younger audiences is incredibly important. 

What skills do you think are important to your role?

Empathy, listening skills and emotional intelligence – because interacting with people is the most important component of my work.

The team I am part of has interests in so many business and editorial areas of the BBC, so managing without direct authority, influencing through persuasion and using data to back up your requirements or expectations are all very important.

Being on the lookout for new things and new solutions available out there is key too, and always trying very hard to get people to forget the dreaded phrase "we have always done it like that". 

What has your current job taught you about the industry?

Ours is a very honest and sharing industry – digital innovation is a very new subject, in relation to, say, TV or radio or print, so people are very generous with sharing their experiences.

Also, you can learn a lot from smaller outfits that are yet to develop internal blockers that slow us down.

Plus, content is still the most important part of digital journalism – tools change and evolve, but understanding your audience and having clarity of vision and purpose will always matter.

What would you say to someone applying to work at your organisation?

1. Change is constant
2. Data is important
3. Innovation is crucial
4. Original content is what matters most

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Always listen actively and always aim high – apart from 'dress for the job you want, not the job you have!'

Check back next week for a new look into the media industry – in the meantime, you can read through our other weekly interviews with digital media experts.

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