Journalism Degree Career Options

A journalism degree positions a graduate to work in the diverse world of media. It also imparts the tools needed to succeed in many advertising/marketing copywriter jobs, as well as any job that needs excellent research and writing skills. A degree alone is not a guarantee of a job, however; a solid portfolio of clippings and experience (internship or employment) will dramatically improve one's hire-ability. Following are several career options available to those who've recently attended J-School.

Print Media

Print media includes magazine, newspapers, and non-fiction books. Entry-level jobs in print include proofreading, copywriting, local beat research, and fact-checking. These all require close attention to detail, excellent people skills, and deadline-driven turnaround. They also form the foundation for comprehending and navigating the machinations of the business.

Higher up on the food chain are editors, ranging from content editors, assistant editors and section editors, to managing editors and publishers. Editors make decisions regarding the overall content of a section, book, or magazine. They determine the direction, tenor, and focus of the publication. Editors make long-range content decisions, initiate serial stories, and divvy up assignments.

While the entry-level positions mostly focus on ground work, editing positions require a clear understanding of the target audience. Plainly, editors are under pressure from publishers and advertisers to craft articles that people want to read and that create a sense of connection.

Broadcast Media

Broadcast media includes radio and television broadcasts. Since the medium is live and heard, not read, the writing must be adjusted to reflect these facts. Generally, features in broadcast are more succinct and dramatic.

Just like print media, the hierarchy of positions starts with proofreading and fact-checking and moves up to editorial positions. Additionally, journalists working in broadcast must be aware of national trending, as their segments may appear in multiple markets.

Success in broadcast media is determined by the Nielsen Ratings and the Arbitron Ratings. These ratings reflect the number of viewers/listeners and directly influence the cost of advertising, which is the revenue stream that supports the business (with the exception of some public broadcasting and paid programming). Also, becoming a successful on-air radio or television journalist requires excellent diction, well-groomed appearance, and a balanced, even-tempo delivery.

Internet Media

As more and more people turn to the internet for their news and information, increasing numbers of recent J-School graduates are finding jobs in Internet Media. There are numerous contract positions available for websites in their infancy, as well as full-time positions writing for the online versions of print publications and televised news stations.

Graduates working in internet media generally have a high workload and a shorter turn-around time for assignments. Additionally, a modicum of technical savvy and an understanding of the audience are important job requirements.

Advertising/Marketing

Every advertising and marketing agency employs creative writers to help draft their campaigns, and many of these people have journalism degrees. These positions are often highly paid and engage a level of creativity some journalists find lacking in traditional reporting jobs.

Research Assistant

Journalists are well-trained in accurate research and reporting, and many find work as Research Assistants. This can be fulfilling employment for those who enjoy variety and investigation without the deadline pressure or ratings-chasing of news reporting.