about this sitesee Meranda's resumesee clips and work sampleskeep in touch

News execs advise journalism students to be versatile

Take a look through some of the advice that Midwestern newspaper editors have for journalism students today. Mostly, it seems their take is optimistic.

It says the survey was conducted with 86 news managers in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. Makes sense since this is coming out at a job fair sponsored by the Hoosier State Press Association and Indiana Associated Press Managing Editors.

I can’t find the original documents on which that AP story is based, but I came across some other versions with more quotes from the editors.

Here’s my favorite of the advice I saw because it was exactly what I looked for — and mostly got — in my first job:

“Pick a newspaper that already is way past thinking of itself as a newspaper. Pick an organization that values journalism in all its aspects but recognizes that it needs people to be part of a seismic change at the same time. You can be part of that change.”
• Dennis R. Hetzel, Kentucky general manager, Enquirer Media, Fort Mitchell, Ky.

And here’s the one to take away no matter your medium:

“Be prepared across a range of skills because it’s so hard to tell what will be needed on your first job. Further, job skills are a moving target. What’s required today could be much different in a few years. If adaptability is a skill, students will need to acquire that.”
• Dan Corkery, managing editor, The News-Gazette, Champaign, Ill.

There are more details of the survey from the version posted on the Indy Star. It is the sidebar on that page (look in the right column).

Here’s a loaded question with unsurprising results (hello, they were asking newspaper editors!):

Could you suggest any reason(s) for college students to consider a career in newspapers in light of the downsizing in our industry today?
1. Skills of a journalist will always be in demand regardless of format: 29
2. Important work: 27 (Serve as watchdog for the public; expose corruption; ensure justice and freedom; make a difference; do some good.)
3. Still can be a rewarding and satisfying career: 7

But what we should read from that survey, if you ask me, is there are still plenty of people who believe that journalism is still important. But it’s harder than ever and maybe even more a roll of the dice than ever to break in. To better your odds, j-school students need to be willing to work hard, have strong basic skills but also be flexible, adaptable and diverse in building their skillset. Also, start by freelancing and don’t overlook small papers.

2 Responses to “News execs advise journalism students to be versatile”

  1. Teaching Online Journalism » Advice for journalism students now Says:

    […] You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your ownsite. […]

  2. Will Sommer Says:

    That first one was my favorite. It’s important to be working with people who realize what the industry changes that have happened me and what the ones that are coming are going to be. That way, you’re better prepared for the big shake-ups.