In several recent meetings with organizations and colleges to discuss our program, several people have stopped me in the middle of my pitch to ask - "What is a content producer?" Our organization is dedicated to training the next generation of digital storytellers or Content Producers - a phrase I use considerably in laying out our innovative program. But I am continually reminded most of world is still unfamiliar with this term.
A Content Producer is simply a creator of digital content - blogs, photos, videos - anything that can be posted on a digital platform such as a website or social media - is content. Most call it "news" or "articles" or simply "videos," but in the production world it's content - and content is now a vital piece of information currency in the world.
Who produces content and who hires people who produce content?
When I recently Googled "content producer" I found more than 30 job opening in the LA area alone. From PETA to KABC News to big downtown law firms to PR agencies to a "luxury brand" of alcohol - all of these companies, organizations and agencies are looking for content producers.
When you add all the job openings that don't specifically mention content production but nevertheless require those skills, there are hundreds of jobs open in this region. The public information officer for a sheriff or police department needs these skills. The people who handle communications for cities, counties, school districts and all other public agencies now must have these skills. Hospitals and health care companies have discovered the necessity of hiring not only marketing and communications staff with content production skills but staff who do their community outreach and education programs. In fact, I can't think of a single enterprise or industry that doesn't have a direct or indirect need to hire people who produce content.
Content drives the digital economy. Whether it's for websites or social media platforms - whether it's used for sales, marketing, entertainment, education or advocacy - any entity that needs to engage effectively with the public must need to produce and "push out" content.
So where are these content producers coming from? Are the community colleges, universities, vocational schools, school districts - are any education institutions in this region - preparing this vital workforce?
That depends not only on the education institution, we've discovered it also depends on where that institution is situated. Not surprisingly, there are programs on the Westside but few out in the Inland Empire or even the San Gabriel Valley.
And these are good-paying jobs and careers. Some employers require a four-year degree but many do not. Most potential employers simply want to see a body of work.
There are many employers, particularly small media companies, that would hire content producers right out of community college - if the college had a good program. I know because I talk to employers in this area frequently and none has mentioned a consistent source of local talent. In fact, the publisher of one community publication says he's hired and let go several graduates of a relatively well-known four-year university with a digital media program because they didn't have the skills for the job - even at an entry-level. "We're a small operation," he told me. "I just don't have the time to retrain them."
We have committed significant resources over the last few years to making sure our young people go to college - particularly Latino, African-American and other students of color. Let's make sure they're getting an education worthy of their effort that launches them into careers that give them a shot at success.