BizWeek on the Journalism Job Market

September 20, 2009
Michael Mandel at Business Week has done some great work analysing changes in US journalism jobs. The bad news: a decline of a third in newspaper jobs in a decade. The good news: more internet jobs and twice as many information services jobs. But the net result is that this sector is shrinking. “What we have is a wipeout in newspapers, plus what looks like a combination of secular and cyclical declines in other “journalistic” industries.”

Why employ a journalist?

March 18, 2009

A good piece by Jill Geisler of the Poynter Institute on ten reasons to hire a journalist.

NewsVision Conference in Washington

February 28, 2009

NewsVision Conference in Washington, March 30.

The NewsVision conference, organized by the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism, is designed to be an annual gathering of some of the nation’s top journalists from digital and traditional media. It provides an opportunity to come together and take stock of where the industry is, discuss where it is heading, and debate ways to strengthen its future.

Join other top journalists and media managers at the Newseum for a day-long symposium and conversation on the future of news. Listen in as some of the best minds in journalism share how they are adapting to the struggle for sustainability as news goes digital.

Moving on to PR

February 22, 2009

A terrific piece of work by Craig McGill on how to (or not to) move from journalism to PR. “It’s something I never wanted to write, but with the mounting clear-outs of newsrooms and other organisation, I thought it might be handy to write up a quick, basic guide to PR to try and get rid of some of those illusions reporters have about the industry – The Redundant Journalist Guide to PR.”

This rang particularly true: “One thing to accept – and accept early because it bothers a lot of people who are very good at writing stories – is that quite often you will take something well written and make it worse because a client wanted changes. Stand your ground by all means and defend that ampersand if it means so much to you, but remember this: they pay you, so consider it like a sub’s rewrite – it was better before they got it. The difference being, this press release will go to all your expeers with your name on it.

“Ultimately you have to suck it up, because, short of physical violence, telling your paymasters that their suggestions are crap will cost you your job and lead to a hell of a lot of rewrites – and your time is going to be precious to start with.”

Get ’em off!

February 10, 2009

A good and provocative piece in the WSJ on changing career and the odd things it does to your psyche (ain’t it the truth). Includes the wonderful sentence, “A veteran foreign correspondent and editor for the Dallas Morning News, Mr. Precker took a buyout in 2006 and now manages a high-end strip club.”

WSJ makes (small) cuts

February 9, 2009

From Robert Thomson’s email to staff on 14 redundancies at the WSJ (full email and report here at E&P):

Over the past couple of months, teams have been reorganized at The Wall Street Journal and we have lost 11 journalists through attrition. Unfortunately, it has been necessary today to restructure several other teams at the cost of an additional 14 positions.

There is no doubt that Dow Jones is in a far stronger position than our competitors and that the global influence of the Journal and Newswires is growing significantly, so there are genuine reasons for optimism. But we also must be realistic about the current trading environment and continue to reduce costs while maintaining the world’s highest standard of journalistic quality and integrity.”

Ten Uses for an Ex-Journalist. V: Attitudes

February 6, 2009

Changing careers after journalism isn’t easy. In particular, I found that some deeply ingrained habits were hard to shift. I won’t generalise – this was my experience, and much of it may be more to do with me than with journalism. 


1.       I mistrust and criticise authority. Like most journalists I was brought up to regard hierarchy and authority with disdain and mistrust. This is not necessarily useful if you are working in a large corporation. But in virtually every place I have worked, there is more cap-doffing and saluting than in a newsroom.

2.       I like to decide how I do my job. As a journalists I tended to get a large degree of autonomy in my work. Many other professions don’t. Being supervised or guided didn’t sit easily with me though I have largely got over this.

3.       I travel fastest alone. Many journalists – not all, this is more print than anything else – get the liberty of making their own decisions, often in tough circumstances, usually in quite competitive environments. Some industries are like this but in most, you will be in a team. I am better at teams now, but initially found this a challenge.

4.       I am no corporate whore. Disdain for corporate values can manifest itself in many different ways – not shaving, not wearing ties, not turning up on time. In other industries the suits get more respect. Indeed I have now become a suit and have to act accordingly. There are few prizes for being a suit yet still pretending you are one of the guys.

5.       I resign! As a journalist I was permitted to be volatile and to threaten to resign a few times a year. My new colleagues and managers are more likely to regard such behaviour as flaky, self-obsessed and unreliable than creative and emotionally committed.

6.       Who cares about the bean-counters? Accountants and moneymen are not universally popular in the media: the real money makers, after all, are the creative professionals. This works in one or two other industries but it really doesn’t in most. Bean counting is actually pretty important so the company doesn’t go bust. I have got to know the bean counters; I count the occasional bean myself. I learnt this lesson while still in journalism, from the guys in syndication and accounts.

7.       Do you know who I am? Journalists get access to people by virtue of their names, titles, employers, press cards and public expectations. Others don’t. They queue. It can be hard to adjust to the fact that Joseph Schmoe, who used to return your calls in a minute, no longer much cares for you now that you do not write editorials for the Antimacassar Advocate.

8.       Excitement. I wouldn’t say I am an adrenaline junkie (I covered the European Union, after all). But I thrive on tension and bursts of activity. I had to learn a new work pattern: the daily grind, the deadline thrill, are now past. Most of my projects go on for weeks or even months, and I get my kicks in different ways.  

9.       Don’t you believe in me? Journalistic disagreements are often personal. Newspapers are highly individualistic places; favour and character often matter alongside ability. Other corporate environments may be more abstract and depersonalised (or perceive themselves that way).

10.   Writing is everything. I have a tendency to think things can be sorted out with clever drafting, and sometimes they can’t. Many others don’t communicate through the written word and are even suspicious of it for various reasons.

Attitudinal differences between journalists and corporate PR

CJR: “For good or ill, journalism and neurosis may be inextricably caught up together”.

ABC.AU: “Do you have to be emotionally dysfunctional to be a great journalist?”

 Index to this series