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How Do I Break Into Journalism In 2009?

We enjoyed listening in on a Poynter.org chat today about what it’s like out there for jobseekers, especially those still in college and wondering what to do in 2010 or 2011. A few highlights:

Q: I’m graduating in May and am trying to do exactly what this chat’s title suggests. This morning, my journalism professor (a very well-respected man in the field) told my class to pick a state and drive around to find a small 10,000 to 30,000 circulation daily and start there. But I feel like that tactic doesn’t take into account our digital age. Thoughts?

A from Ellyn Angelotti: I’d suggest you drive around online too :) Pick an area you’d like to work in and see which news organization have Web sites or are on Twitter.

A from Colleen Eddy: That is one way you can approach it. Don’t limit yourself to the 10,000 daily circulation. Look for all online media opportunities as well where you can use your skills and find opportunities to learn and grow.

Q: It’s fairly dire out there at the moment for people wanting particularly to work in papers. Is it ever going to get better, or will everything end up going online?
A from Joe Grimm: I am looking into my Magic 8 Ball … we are going to see more papers close this year and more staffs cut. No question. Are newspapers going all the way down to zero? I doubt that. I think we’ll find a new level of stability. It will be with a smaller total employment than we have now. Knowing that, I would look to all media as options.

And finally, some sound advice for everyone, not just college grads:

Colleen Eddy: There is no field that I find “easy” to get into today. But I hear from many of you that Journalism is a vocation. It is more than a job. If you are passionate about journalism, prepare yourself for going after the opportunities, like you would an investigative piece– like you would your sources. Look in non traditional companies as well as the traditional ones, and plan to use perseverance as well as a lot of time and effort to build your network. Is it smart? You will be the judge. Set yourself guidelines and timelines for going after the jobs. Have a back up plan.

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