“In Crisis, There Is Opportunity”

Please read this piece by A.J. Pacitti about the job market in the news business and in publishing. She notes the necessity of being “technically facile” and offers other sound advice to beginners hoping to break into the industry.


13 responses to ““In Crisis, There Is Opportunity”

  1. It almost seems like trying to get a job post-college is going to be harder than graduating with a decent resume to even get looked at. The last thing that I want to do is be the twenty-something who hasn’t tried enough outlets and is unworthy of being hired. In all honesty though, I think that we are learning quite a bit of what we’ll need to know in order to do well. The article made great use of real life testimony that helps someone like me who wants to know how others have tested the water before finally jumping into the proverbial news-deep end. The fact that I feel comfortable with the internet and writing, I don’t foresee too many problems combing the two. At the end of the day though, the news world seems to be one big pond and if you don’t know how to swim or have the traits to be successful, you’re bound to sink and drown. (Hope the fish/pond metaphor works, I cringed as I was typing it…)

  2. Ugh, the dreaded reminder of how important networking is!

    The idea of talking to old interns was smart for Pacitti, and there was an interesting group of young journalists. I love the inclusion of the public radio intern, since I’m a public radio nerd and I think radio usually gets overlooked in conversations about journalism.

  3. This whole idea of internships has been grilled into our (“our” being SJMC students) heads since the first day of J 40. However, I never gave it a second thought thinking that any work experience is going to look good on a resume. The point of this article is that in the long run, with a shrinking job market, we have to try harder and work harder before even thinking about applying for a job outside of college. I like the fish/pond metaphor used above because it’s very relevant. Am I worried about “sinking” after college. Of course. But, at the same time, I think about the advantages that I have over people who may have been in the industry longer. I know new technology and I know it really well. I grew up with the internet (bringing in the other article we read for the previous post). I know that journalism no longer consists of sitting at a desk with a telephone calling people to research stories. It’s on the web and unlike other people that are older, I don’t have to adjust to this change. This “Change” is all I have really ever known. However, sometimes I think that it might be better to expand my horizons outside the realm of journalism so as to secure a paycheck every month, just in case.

  4. I think the take-away from this article is you have to be willing to put yourself out there armed with as many tools as you can snatch from the toolbox. Take advantage of any opportunity to learn a new angle on your career. I am attending a conference later this week in Boulder, Colorado, for magazine freelance writers interested in making a career of travel writing. Well, what goes along with travel writing? You guessed it—photography. If a magazine can buy your story and you have photos to accompany it, meaning they don’t have to hire and fly a photographer to the destination, guess who’s going to find herself with a byline!

    I think that careers used to be more niche-oriented, like a factory job where each one does one small task that results in a finished project, but today everyone does a little bit of everything. The problem I see with this scenario is it makes you open to easy replacement when the guy in the next cube can do all the same things you can do. Or, if you’re a glass half full person, it makes you more flexible in they number of positions you are qualified to hold.

    I feel like blogging is helping me see that this is not so tough. Maybe I’ll even expand my techno-talents in the coming year. Whoa. Look out publishing world.

  5. As a college senior, I’m already feeling the pressure of breaking into the magazine industry. In my opinion, you can have all the internship experience in the world and it’s still extremely difficult to crack into this biz. I know recent Drake alums who can’t keep their magazine experience limited to a one-paged resume and are still unemployed living in NYC.

    I believe to be source of this problem is how the magazine industry is “downsizing” a lot of their staff, and therefore taking advantage of these unpaid internship opportunities (i.e: interns doing duties editorial assistants would do). Magazines know anyone would give an arm and a leg to work in New York–even if he/she has to live off Ramen Noodles everyday. On job postings online, I see more and more “unpaid internships” going up than I see full-time openings. I read message boards and blogs about college graduates taking unpaid internship positions at their favorite magazines just for the slight chance that they could become an EA. I even stumble across postings about how these unpaid interns are working crazy hours and performing duties that the fashion editor/EA/copy editor would typically do.

    In crisis, is there in fact opportunity? Perhaps, but it might be unpaid for recent grads.

  6. I think having an area of expertise can play a big part in landing a job (in the magazine industry, at least). If an applicant has experience/accreditation in interior design, fitness, cooking, fashion or whatever the niche, he/she can apply it to a magazine on that topic. On the other hand, I don’t expect to choose the magazine I work for right out of college. It’s important to be able to break away from familiar topics and write/edit articles about something completely foreign.

    As for getting a foot in the door, an editor we met on the NY magazine trip advised we build relationships before we need them. I know that’s called networking. But it’s a good point to not wait until you need a favor (a job) to send and email or pick up the phone.

  7. I’ve read a lot of articles like this. Writers telling younger writers-to-be, “Sorry! There are just no jobs for you unless you can do everything… and you probably can’t.” Are we sure they’re not just trying to save their own asses by scaring the younger generation into switching to a pharmacy major so they don’t get fired because they didn’t grow up with their fingers on a keyboard?

    That said, I’ve heard this a million times before. Yes, I know that I have to be able to do everything. I think I’ve been told that since elementary school. I feel that Drake’s journalism program does a great job at giving their students a broad education in the field of journalism.

    But perhaps the class they forgot is “Lowering Your Expectations 101.” Too many of us expect to be working at Vogue or Sports Illustrated right out of school. That’s just not possible.

    So I have being a jack-of-all-trades, networking and internships on my “To Do” List. Do these geniuses have any more “secrets” for me?

  8. Networking has always been an added perk when getting a job. Now, however, it is /essential/. Internships, regardless of the grunt-level (and lower-level) work you may be subjected to. The more people who know your work ethic, the better.

    A lot of what was said in the article is common sense. I mean, in a time of upheaval there is always opportunity for those willing to work. You have to keep in mind that many of the people who are getting a raw deal in print media do not have the same skill set as you. The real competition is between the younger generation. If you have the basic package that everyone does, you won’t impress anyone. You need to have something extra.

  9. Eek- the issue of jobs, internships and post-graduation. These topics always stress me out, so naturally, so did this article. The very first few sentences had me in an absolute panic thinking that I wouldn’t be fit to land a job in the magazines world.

    The idea of having well-rounded technology experiences made me grateful for my JMC59 classes and my ability to use those different computer programs. Also, like the previous article explored, the mere fact that I was born into the ‘Internet generation’ only adds to my ability to perform at a higher tech level.

    Despite these few characteristics I posess, the whole internship, job and graduation conversations still freak me out!!! This article only confirms my notion that the potential job-seeker needs to come equipped with every possible tool in order to perform well- however- this isn’t always true. Even an impressive resume filled with internships, experience and good networks doesn’t always mean you land the job. Tech experience, even such as this blog, can only help you. But like I said… I am still freaked out.

  10. I have always been anxious about what my life would be like after college. Where does one even begin? With the economy going downhill and competition for jobs skyrocketing, how is an ambitious, twenty-something- year- old supposed to land a decent job? I understand having experience, networking and knowing the industry are all boosters in a cover letter. But anybody can have that right? Entry level positions now require a few years of experience and all the knowledge in the world. I always thought internships were supposed to help students gain experience. But now it seems like you need experience just to get an internship!

    Going back to the other article, I feel very lucky to have grown up learning about the Internet. I agree that we do have a leg up on older generations who were not awarded that luxury. However, we can’t forget that everybody else our age and in our field. We were all brought up on the same technology and learned the same basic skills. We all have the same general knowledge and with high competition for jobs right now we need to make sure we don’t fall behind. This article did a good job of making me want to learn everything I can about new media, as well as scaring me into thinking I will forever be unemployed.

  11. I have friends in the same situation Laura mentions. I’m only a junior, but the fear of not finding a job after graduation is already eating at me. What can I do? I have had several internships, I’m involved on campus…but I’m afraid this won’t be enough.

    I think we all need to start thinking realistically about jobs in media, especially magazines. One of Pacitti’s points is that we need to “keep our options open.” Too often, in my opinion, students set their sights on major newsstand magazines and are disappointed when they can’t find a job there upon graduation. I think students are selling themselves short if they don’t look into other options such as online media, custom publishing, and regional magazines. You can always move up.

  12. I agree wholly with the beginning of this article. I am terrified to graduate, because I am afraid of what comes next. Will I have a job after graduation? What is it that I really want to do? My mind is spinning with question after question. To make matters worse the economy is in a bad state and as the article states the media industry is downsizing. It makes the idea of getting out in the real world even more intimidating.

    I do think that by gaining more experience in online media I will be better able to find a job after graduation. The only problem with this idea is that I have only two semesters left to become familiar with the new technology. I need to start finding my way around the Internet and I need to do it fast.

  13. Can I actually get a job in this j-business? I am totally with Elizabeth on this one. In fact, instead of reading the second page of the article, I worked arduously on starting a blog. I couldn’t get my mind off the blog. I even called my cousin who has his Masters in Mass Communication to mull over blog titles with me.

    I am just glad we’re getting involved in this kind of new frontier media now. Reading these articles makes me thankful that I go to Drake and I have professors who care about my progression in this business.

    I thought the fact about going abroad, like Alexander Provan in Bolivia, was an interesting facet to the story. I have a traveling itch and his words and example are inspiring. I just hope I can develop the skills that attract U.S. publishers before I go to Abu Dhabi.

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