Young Journalist on the Job Hunt

I recently got a question from a young writer type asking how to get into the publishing industry right now. Below was my advice. I had meant to post this months ago, but got sidetracked…

Bad News…

Layoff Sign

As for getting into the industry in general (in this economic climate), I’m not sure I have any good advice. Here’s my bad news first: Everywhere you turn it seems that more and more publications are laying folks off, cutting back circulation or stuck in a hiring freeze. It’s a bad job market, and from what I hear from friends, colleagues present and past, etc., it’s not a good time to be looking. You mentioned Southern Living, for example? While there, I was told the best thing about working there was the job security because they never let anyone go. Then this…

Silver lining…

But here’s my good news. You’re young, so you don’t need to be paid as much as someone who has been there forever and a day. You’re young, so you’re more tech-savvy (I used to cringe when people said that because I thought it reflected an ageist attitude, but now that I’ve worked for a while, I’ve basically accepted it as true). And you’re young, so you’re flexible and can take on long work hours, have more time learn a lot of different skills since you don’t have kids, etc.

My take…

So here’s my advice in general: I’d look at getting involved in writing as much as possible. I’d look into a company such as b5 media (a network of bloggers). They don’t pay much, but the experience you would gain by a) writing on a daily (if not hourly) basis would be invaluable and (b) learning the vaguely defined skill of “building an online audience” is extremely valued these days. If you can head into a job interview at a more traditional media company such as the ones you described and tell them how you launched a blog with b5 media and grew it from nothing to 10,000 visits a month – well, that’s going to mean a lot to them. Also check into mediabistro & Poynter – they have good job postings.

Finally, my last bit would be to look online (as in, look at new/online media companies) in general and avoid print. Print companies aren’t hiring right now and, to be honest, I don’t think they are all that exciting to work for (that’s my “new media” bias though). At Southern Living, I was given a lot of encouragement to try different things on their Web site, because I didn’t work on the print side of things, and it was awesome! I launched a podcast, a blog, picked up some (rudimentary) Flash experience and learned a bit about Omniture’s Web Analytics software. It was a true jack-of-all trades experience, but I couldn’t have gotten it fetching coffee for the food editors like some of the other interns who worked on the print side of things.

Anything you would add, subtract, disagree with?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s