Considering a career in journalism or media? Check out what these 12 leading pros have to say about how you can be successful in a rapidly changing industry.
The journalism industry is evolving rapidly. With more print publications shutting their doors or forced into widespread layoffs, it can be downright daunting for a journalist to stay ahead of the curve.
Here are tips from 12 leading journalism professionals about how to develop the right skill set and experiences to succeed in the coming years.
1. Find a great mentor
The networks you build now will be the ones that sustain you throughout your career. Thanks to my network, I haven’t actually applied for a job since 1992. On top of networking, get yourself some great mentors that can help along your career path. Even at my advanced age, I still have mentors and a network that some would kill for. — Benet Wilson, Co-editor, Airways News
2. Keep learning
Learn. Learn. Learn. Learn as many things as you can, and don’t limit yourself to any one kind of journalism. Be a good writer, editor, social media user, coder, etc. — Scott Kleinberg, Social Media Editor, The Chicago Tribune
3. Learn about business models
Learn about media business models. Try to understand what influences various markets. Think entrepreneurially about your projects. Don’t disdain the other side of the firewalls between you and the business side. Be wary and wise, but figure out how it works. Knowing this will help you navigate your career better. — Tim Akimoff, Digital Director, WBEZ
4. Listen to your audience
Consciously learn to listen to your audiences for clues on how to engage them better with your journalism. In the digital world, they are providing you with cues all the time with their actions and inactions. — Raju Narisetti, SVP Strategy, NewsCorp.
5. Reach out to more experienced pros for help
Don’t be too afraid or too proud to reach out for help from those with more experience (or accept it when it is offered unsolicited). Ask them a bunch of questions and actually listen to their advice. These are the sort of relationships that can make or break a career. — Mandy Jenkins, Open Newsroom Editor, Storyful
6. Start building your online brand now
Learn reporting techniques and news ethics and classic writing approaches (like inverted pyramid), but don’t ignore social media and digital innovations and tools. The more you bring to the table, the more valuable you will be to news organizations and to the public. And it’s never too early to start building your brand and engaging. — Holly Epstein Ojalvo, Founder, Kicker
7. Be flexible
Be flexible, be nimble. Our industry is moving so fast, the work you’re doing five years from now might not even exist yet. Go with the flow and enjoy the ride. —Amy Simons, Journalism Professor, University of Missouri
8. Focus on the fundamentals of great journalism
Focus on learning the basics of journalism: ethics, accuracy, good reporting and good storytelling. Those things are all important whether you work in print, broadcast, social media or a medium that doesn’t exist yet. — Angie Case, Senior Web Producer, Fox21 News
9. Concentrate on being right and not just on being first
Being second and right is always better than being first and wrong. — Steve Fox, Multimedia Journalism Lecturer and Coordinator, University of Massachusetts
10. Don’t be afraid to interview a source
Never be afraid to interview people, and never think technology is a substitute for hard work or intelligence. — David Sheets, Correspondent, New York Times
11. Be curious
Follow your curiosity. Be proficient at writing more than 140 characters. Question the status quo. Be open to everything around you, and, most importantly, be kind. — Yvonne Leow, VP, AAJA
12. Find your passion
Find what you love, whether it’s a topic area or a form of storytelling/design/dataviz/coding/whatever, and be the best at whatever your speciality is. — Burt Herman, Co-Founder, Storify
Jessica Malnik is a community builder, content creator and all-around digital magician. Her work has been featured in a variety of online sites and publications, including Convince and Convert, PR Daily, Spin Sucks, SocialFresh, 12Most and CMXHub.