By Melanie Gibson
As I begin my senior year of college, I’ve been thinking about the job hunt a lot lately. But honestly, I’ve been thinking about entering the world of the working journalists since I started college in fall 2008. One of the most memorable moments of that fall happened in a once-required Career Explorations in Journalism course in which the students were told at the beginning of the class that many of us would not actually graduate from the world’s first journalism school, let alone go into the field.
Instead of getting scared, I taught myself to diversify my skills, and eventually, my classes helped me to refine my skills in multimedia reporting and producing. But, as I’ve advanced through my courses, I’ve realized that what we learn in required courses is not quite enough to make us stand out. What makes a good journalist stand out above the rest is the ability to innovate and move forward. But what jobs in the newsroom are there to accommodate these new talents?
On Aug. 4, Lindsay Oberst of Kennesaw State’s Center for Sustainable Journalism published a piece outlining 11 potential new positions in the newsroom. On August 24, ONA reblogged the post on their ONA Issues Tumblr, which is where I saw the story and began thinking about what we’re learning in the classroom and what we’re learning in our newsrooms at MU. While all the new positions are dependent on somebody practicing traditional journalism, they require new skills, like using analytics to make stories more “shareable” and creating e-books for long-form journalism projects.
My convergence reporting and editing classes gave me lots of ideas about things to investigate, but I haven’t had a chance to practice the skills yet. This makes me wonder whether we’re innovating fast enough to meet the needs of the new media landscape. Also, are journalism programs across the country improving their curricula fast enough to give their students a competitive edge when entering the job hunt? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!
Here is the list that Oberst created with 11 new potential newsroom positions:
1. Headline Optimizer. Headlines aren’t what they used to be, especially in the online world. Once you could be witty or silly or clever, depending on the story. And once you didn’t have to worry about keywords. Today, headlines are often the way people find and decide to click on a story. Good headlines are still an art, yet they are a completely different style. To brush up on your headline-writing, you could start by reading Poynter’s 10 questions to help you write better headlines.
2. Social Media Reporter / Aggregator. Andy Carvin is well-known for his uniquely using Twitter to fact check information (see our interview with Carvin.) Other media organizations are finding useful ways to make sense of social media noise. Storify is one tool being used by journalists.
3. Story Scientist. This job is about investigating data to make digital content. New York Magazine talks about the role of a data scientist at Buzzfeed. Basically, he uses analytics to determine ways to make stories more shareable, when to share the stories and how.
4. Data Detective. This one is also about data, something that is becoming increasingly important to journalism. Here is a video report produced during a Knight Journalism Fellowship that explores issues in this area.
5. Curator in Chief. Beyond the influx of social media and data information, we’re confronted with too much of every type of information. Although it can be argued that all journalists curate information in some regard, some organizations are making curation a job. This Fast Company article talks about being a curator in chief.
6. Explanatory Journalist. This type of person also deals with our overload of information; they help answer questions that news stories leave unanswered. For more about this idea, read a post on memeburn.com.
7. Viral Meme Checker / Viral Video Maker. Going viral is something everyone wants, even journalists these days. New York Magazine also talks about how one journalist spends his time creating highlight snippets with the most linkability.
8. Slideshow Specialist. Slideshows are also popular on the web. People who make awesome slideshows require someone who can write and create visuals.
9. Networker / Engager. Many journalists already spend hours a day networking and creating engagement using social media. New York Magzine also talks about the engagement editor for ProPoblia who uses crowd-sourcing to involve more people in journalism. More organizations are seeking people with an online presence to fill their empty positions.
10. E-Book Creator. As Robert Niles points out on The Online Journalism Review blog, ebooks are one of the few forms of online media that people are willing to pay for.
11. Web Developer. Many news organizations are looking to hire web developers, as pointed out by Andy Boyle on his blog. Journalism schools probably aren’t teaching this skills, but most developers are self-taught anyway.