The plight of the journalism graduate

Everyone assumes that as a journalism grad, I must want to be a reporter, and wonders why I’m not pursuing relevant positions.

But I’m not cut out for hardnosed reporting. I want to be a journalist, just not a reporter. I love subbing, editing, layout. I take great joy in untangling a mangled sentence. In writing captions, blurbs, headlines. And if I had more creative and technical bent, I might have gone into design.

My goal in life is not to bring down tobacco corps or expose dirty politicians. Those are noble causes – just not causes close to my heart. I work alongside reporters and have nothing but admiration for what they do (most of the time).

There is more to the field than ambulance chasing. It doesn’t mean I should go straight into PR or marketing, as one friend – a fellow journo, even! – has said to me (I don’t think I’d necessarily enjoy the commercial aspect of marketing, or all the liasing with various parties I’d have to do as a publicist).

Granted, sub-editing has traditionally been reserved for those with more experience. But that’s changing, with the centralisation of subbing operations and shrinking budgets – fellow grads have gone straight into fulltime subs work – and of course, the advent of online, where traditional hierarchies don’t apply so much.

Don’t get me wrong, I get a kick out of writing too. On that side of things, I’d probably want to pursue roles as a community reporter or entertainment writer. But I feel my heart is in online and that it’s a growth industry – which is why although aforementioned friend is pushing me towards a community arts reporting gig that’s up for the taking, I’m not applying.

In fact, I don’t think a lot of my fellow grads even understand online and what opportunities there are. To me, there’s the opportunity to move up faster, probably more money and certainly prestige, and fun bits on the side like graphic design, HTML, and social media. Although I’ve always thought I’d like to try a stint as a print sub – doing layouts and spreads – I am positive that I’d feel very limited back on the print side of things.

For now, I blog here, freelance at my side job, and mostly sub to my heart’s content at work. (I may not have the title or corresponding pay, but that is the job I’m doing nonetheless). It’s an ideal mix – maybe why I’m not getting the itch to write more?

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10 thoughts on “The plight of the journalism graduate

  • Reply Stephany May 12, 2010 at 14:07

    I agree with this. I’m a journalism student now and it’s amazing what a little percentage of my class wants to do hard-nosed reporting when they graduate, or even reporting in general. Most of us aren’t interested in that. I know I’m not, although I’ll take any job I can get when I graduate! 😉

  • Reply Kara May 12, 2010 at 14:54

    I feel the same way, more or less. I found that I really enjoy editing and laying out papers, not to say that I don’t enjoy writing stories. I’d rather write happy stories, not the ones where you destroy companies and expose lies.

  • Reply The Asian Pear May 13, 2010 at 05:57

    I think people just assume this because they’re not aware of the other professions/careers that one can be with a journalism degree.

  • Reply eemusings May 13, 2010 at 11:06

    It’s just shocking because these are fellow J-grads…and there’s so little general awareness of anything outside of print or broadcast. Get with the times!!

  • Reply slamdunk May 14, 2010 at 16:49

    It is good that you have diverse interests within the profession–not as likely to get frustrated or bored when an employer needs you to wear different hats.

  • Reply Fig May 15, 2010 at 05:59

    I’m the same way. My background is in journalism as well and I definitely did not enjoy the hard reporting. That’s why I went into blogging and doing my own thing. I love writing, just not the hardcore stuff. I think once I get settled somewhere I’d like to try to find a job doing something online with a newspaper. That probably would be ideal for me.

  • Reply Melissa May 15, 2010 at 06:53

    I think you may be my soul mate.

  • Reply eemusings May 15, 2010 at 16:31

    @ Fig – let me know if you ever want to talk about it. That’s basically what I do – happy to help out if I can.

  • Reply 50 questions that will free your mind (Part 2) « Musings of an Abstract Aucklander August 11, 2010 at 12:57

    […] I don’t know what I believe in anymore. I do know that unlike many journalists, I don’t have lofty ambitions…think war correspondent, political reporter, exposing corrupt business. I just want to be happy and fulfilled in what I do. I am REASONABLY happy with my current role. It is about as close to what I could ask for in a perfect job at this stage. I certainly am not settling. […]

  • Reply Link love (Powered by doughnuts | Musings of an Abstract Aucklander May 7, 2012 at 00:49

    […] Two years ago… My childhood best friend found me through Facebook; I struggled with some relationship imbalance; And blogged about the plight of the journalism grad. […]

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