13 – Getting a Job in the Mass Media

Almost every student who shows up in our classes does so without specific job prospects. Some show a great deal of concern about this fact. Others act as though they could care less. But, except for a few rare cases, the question of “How do I get a job?” is likely to come up at some point.

One of the most exciting aspects of the mass media is that almost everything has changed in this regard from five, 10 or 15 years ago. Back then (whenever that was), newspapers were viewed as the most likely entry point into a career in the mass media. From a solid newspaper job, you could go just about anywhere.

Sadly, that is no longer the case.

But maybe not so sadly. There are many new and varied opportunities for young people with potential. The Web has created jobs that we did not conceive of just a few years ago, and there will be more to come.

The worst thing you can do for your students is to lament the passing of the “good old days” and convey to them that there is no hope, no opportunity. Exactly the opposite is true. The world still needs people who can gather, write and distribute information in a variety of forms. It still needs people who can use the language precisely and efficiently and who can do so with speed and confidence. I hope that’s the message that you send to your students.


Key terms and concepts

Here are a few ideas and concepts students should glean from this chapter and from your counseling:

Becoming a professional journalist takes preparation and planning.

Journalism or any mass media profession requires from its practitioners a wide range of knowledge and interests.

Potential journalists can begin their preparation by paying a attention to news events and to the way they are reported in various media.

Becoming a journalist requires knowing a good bit about history.

Writing is the most important skill a potential journalist can develop.

Reading widely is the mark of a good journalist.

Internship — short-term jobs that college student get working for media organizations; traditionally, internships last for one semester, often in the summer.


Chapter notes

New types of jobs. So just what are the new kinds of jobs that the Web is creating for journalists and mass media writers? Check out this intriguing list from the Center for Sustainable Journalism:


Keeping up. Whether in high school or college, the student who wants to enter the field of journalism should start keeping up with the field. One of the best ways to do that is to look at the Society for Professional Journalist’s student resources page. Another source of information is Jim Romonesko’s web log, which can be found at the website for the Poynter Institute.

Resumes. A well-designed, accurate and up-to-date resume is vital for getting a job. As part of the work with this chapter, all students should develop or update their resumes and turn them in for inspection and critiquing. A sample resume can be found at the end of this section.
Journalistic organizations. The chapter lists a number of journalism organizations, and students should not be shy about joining them or at least finding out about them. The websites for these organizations often list jobs and internships.

State press associations. Another place to look for jobs and internships is at the state press association website. Go to any good search engine and type in the name of your state and the words “press association,” and chances are that you will come up with the site. Take a close look at the job listings.


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