Unsolicited Advice to Aspiring Journalists

Chillin on the Dock

I have some unsolicited advice for young journalists who are interested in being hired as professional journalist some day.

Don’t blog.

For most of you, it’s simply not worth the risk.

Risk? Yes, risk.

What happens when you freely publish your best stuff to the web and nobody shows up to read it? No one comments? No one forwards a link to what you wrote to a friend? No bloggers link to what you wrote?

What if the market tells you that no one finds your choice of topics or writing interesting?

What is there to gain from publicly proving this? Next to nothing, other than finding out that you may have chosen the wrong profession.

Luckily for you, there are still plenty of jobs for journalists who aren’t capable of building an audience on their own, so keep your writing to yourself, spend time networking, and land a job with a publication that needs cheap filler.

That being said, if you’re confident that you’re one of the best at researching and writing about what you’re passionate about, put yourself out there. Let the market prove that you can build an audience. You should be in a stronger position to negotiate with publications if you can demostrate that you bring not only your talents to them but an audience as well.

* Photo? It was a beautiful day in Minneapolis today, eh?

One thought on “Unsolicited Advice to Aspiring Journalists”

  1. “What happens when you freely publish your best stuff to the web and nobody shows up to read it? No one comments? No one forwards a link to what you wrote to a friend? No bloggers link to what you wrote?”

    Speaking as a professional writer and former editor-in-chief of a newspaper, I can answer this question for you right now: Nothing. I have never been hired not hired a writer (or refused to do either) because of Web traffic. You hire people because they are passionate about a subject, good at researching it, good at communicating their research, have good ideas, know how to tell a story, and have samples of their work available. It also helps if they already know their beat and can generate story ideas on their own. A blog is a great way to demonstrate this. I don’t expect journalists to be marketing professionals, and will never hold it against them if their blog doesn’t generate massive traffic.

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