Career Advice for Up and Coming Journalists
Ah, the journalist. One of the only career paths people assume you’re going down when they find out that you’re an English major. Or, heaven forbid, if you’re studying writing. Journalism is tricky. If you’re familiar with John Oliver (or just basic updates on print media) then you know the industry is suffering-not just with job and budget cuts but also with this faux-journalism that the millennials seem to have gravitated towards. The age of “listicles” and cute puppy gifs are in lieu of legitimate news stories that matter to the masses. It’s because of these hiccups and miscommunications in the industry that people don’t seem to be taking journalism seriously anymore. Or, if you’re like me, they find out that you’re on a school paper and immediately assume that you’re working on ways to expand your social media presence. Everything needs to be an Instagram post. When it comes to succeeding in the journalism field, at least at this level, there are a few things you should know:
From my experience, you can’t be afraid of investigating or being negative. A student paper can live under the assumption that you’ll promote every club or praise every performance. That’s not how this works. And it’s okay to upset people so long as you’re justified and not unnecessarily cruel (and have the facts and research to back up your statements). But, I can’t stress it enough: part of being a serious journalist is stepping on the toes of those who are used to having their shoes shined. You have a job to do. It’s okay to get your hands dirty and ask the tough questions.
Remain true to the craft. In the digital age, things have taken a serious turn for the worse with some outlets focusing solely on gossip or the colour of Kim Kardashian’s bikini. But to be a serious journalist is to remain true to the practice. In the face of complaints and arguments, it’s important to stick to your guns and hold your integrity close. Everyone assumes that young journalists don’t take the craft seriously or that they can bend the rules more easily because, hey, we’re kids; prove them wrong.
One of the biggest and final pieces of advice I can offer is to not be ashamed of working for a smaller publication. These campus papers can serve as an amazing foundation for us to build a future on. Just because others may not take us seriously doesn’t mean we have to follow suit- hold that newspaper up with pride!