Marginalia, Graduate Blog

What To Do With Your Cool, New Journalism Degree

Stephanie Ewing

The Many Hats Worn by Journalist Types

The Many Hats Worn by Journalist Types

Upon announcing your intention to get your MA in Journalism, friends, family members, or even strangers may have protested: “But journalism is a dying field!” Hopefully you told them to kindly shove it, because the field of journalism is many things right now (in flux, evolving, amazing, frustrating, etc…), but it is certainly not dying.

There are many different kinds of jobs you can explore with your masters in journalism. Your degree is versatile enough to allow you to wear all sorts of hats, so to speak.

The traditional or non-traditonal reporter

The traditional or non-traditonal reporter

1) So-called “legacy media” jobs:

Traditional reporters, producers, and editors for newspapers, network tv, radio, or cable news are likely the jobs you came to school to snag. So go for it! There may be fewer full-time positions now than before, but good writers, tenacious reporters, and sharp editors will always benefit any news organization. Plus, many more organizations are relying on freelancers, which could be a great opportunity for you to get clips and build your portfolio.

***

Trade publications--from fashion to scuba diving

Trade publications--from fashion to scuba diving

2) Trade publications and business-to-business news:

Chicago is actually a big hub of business-to-business and trade publications, the magazines, newsletters, websites, and video vehicles businesses in a particular field use to communicate with one another. Were you in the insurance industry in a past life? Write for the Insurance Journal. These sometimes require specialized knowledge of a certain field, but sometimes they don’t. Though it may not always have the public service aspect you may want, the jobs still pay well and there are still some full-time jobs out there.

***

Travel writing could be fun on the side.

Travel writing could be fun on the side.

3) Create your own job online and through freelancing:

Cover what you love, and then sell it or make a home for it on the internet. You like travel reporting? Pitch stories to travel magazines and websites before you go. Do you want to cover education in your hometown? Are you an activist with a ton of knowledge about a particular issue? Start a blog and gain valuable experience building and maintaining a website.

For her thesis project, journalism grad student Valeria Fanelli created Italians in Chicago, a news site for young professionals from Italy living in Chicago, and has already gained international attention for it.

Disclosure: You may need to support yourself through this kind of venture with a day job, at least until you make your site profitable.

***

Use your journo-skills for other pursuits

Use your journo-skills for other pursuits

4) Work communications and public relations jobs in other fields:

Sure, journalists may equate this to going over to the dark side, but who wouldn’t be at least fleetingly tempted with the possibility of full-time employment, good pay, and relative job security. Plus, you can easily satisfy your desire to be a do-gooder by working for non-profits and advocacy groups. Or, you can be a public relations or public information official for a politician or government office you support without worrying about bias tainting your reporting.

The moral of the story? Do what makes you happy, do it well, do it ethically, and you will find a career (to paraphrase writer/theologian Frederick Buechner) at the intersection of your greatest happiness and the world’s greatest need.

What To Do With Your Cool, New Journalism Degree

Upon announcing your intention to get your MA in Journalism, friends, family members, or even strangers may have protested: “But journalism is a dying field!” Hopefully you told them to …

Journalism MA Stephanie Ewing, stephanie.ewing@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605