Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Advice For Young Journalists, Or How Not To Be An Angry Journalist

The voice behind AngryJournalist.com has some advice for young journalism grads, and since so many young journalists visit this blog, I thought it was worth summarizing here:

1. Get real about your situation. "You might think you can take a job that pays less than $30,000 a year, but can you really? Do the math."

2. Know the business and the industry. "Knowing the business and industry means realizing the broader challenges journalism as a whole is facing."

3. Don't be stupid. "You’re out of excuses because you have the Internet."

4. Think of yourself as a brand. "The idea is you want your employer to Google your name, find your site and say 'damn, I want to hire this youngblood.' "

5. Stop blaming others. "When you’re in a job interview, you can be one of two people. You can say, 'Well, we didn’t have blogs at our college paper,' or you can say, 'We didn’t have blogs at my paper, so I decided to leave and create my own publishing network on campus.' Which candidate would you hire?"

6. Know where you want to work. "This is your first job, not your last. Where can you go from here?"

7. Don't limit yourself. "It’s not the end of the world if you don’t get a newspaper job."

Sage advice.


MPP said...

As a person who just applied to (and was rejected from) several graduate journalism programs, I'm kind of back at square one and am trying to reassess how I can get my foot in the door in the field. I'm 30 and would be making a career change at this point. Through the humiliation of being denied entry to a program this year, I did come upon a bit of good news; the dean at one of the school's I applied to told me that I mostly didn't get in because I didn't have clips under my belt (this same dean liked my writing and encouraged me to reapply next year).

So what would you recommend to someone who is trying to break into the field? Who would be open to my submissions? What kind of places should I be looking for gigs? Any advice you could offer would be great. Thanks!

The Editorialiste said...

MPP -- Thanks for commenting, and sorry to hear of your j-school blues!

Career-changers have it tough, because of the lack of experience. (Ironic, isn't it?) The good news is, barring the chance that you've already left your job, you can start today.

You're already ahead of the game by having your own blog, which helps. Consider contacting a very small paper in the area and volunteering (yes, for free, if necessary) your time (and explain why you're doing so). In fact, ask a local reporter to lunch. Someone on your side is helpful!

Go to a funeral and report on it. Or write a candid report on a local event for children. Something. Really, anything you write is helpful to get started.

These days, formal submissions are tough (ask the full-time freelancers in the biz!). So look for small things. Or contact your favorite (not-huge) website, and maybe see if you can offer your services there. The bottom line: anything helps. You're basically starting from scratch, so get that actor's mindset of seasoned rejection and find places that will fit some of your writing.

Remember that dean of yours? If they're close by (and even if they're not), ask him or her if they know of any places you can get clips, or can help introduce you somewhere. You've made a connection at a j-school -- you've got a serious benefit on your side. Use it!

Hope that helps and thanks for reading (and linking!),
The Ed.