In the search for interesting perspectives on the future of news for Knight Pulse's Twitter conversations, last week turned up this article in the New York Times. It's about the sad plight of two twins from Ohio with journalism degrees who have been on a fruitless quest to find work in journalism for over a year.
Presumably, the author wished to use the twins' situation to highlight the desperation of a new generation of journalists and the crisis of journalism today.
However, if you read the article, you'll probably notice what I did. There is something that these twins never thought to do. In all the details of the resumes submitted, cover letters composed and candy treats made, there is an obvious hole in their efforts, one that is most likely preventing them from getting work.
Did you notice that they never thought to actually just write?
I'm reminded of the first and best advice given in every writer's group I've ever attended: just write. Write every day. Write a journal; write a short story; write a poem; write a blog. Just write.
As journalists, did they really expect to get jobs without practicing and promoting their writing every day?
Maybe they should read David Bear's 10 Hopeful Thoughts on the Future of Journalism, in which he advocates being your own papergirl, loving the topic you're covering and embracing technology. As Mark Glaser has pointed out, these days, journalists need to have a spirit of an entrepreneur. Gone are the days when a journalism degree will garner new grads a steady job at a mainstream news outlet. Instead, journalists are being creative and creating their own news outlets to fill local and online needs.
They aren't sitting around waiting for someone to give them a beat and pay them to write; they are finding a beat they love and creating the means to write about it. Look at Susan Mernit and Amy Gahran, who together have launched the local online press Oakland Local. Or the journalists formerly of the Rocky Mountain News teaming up to launch the online news magazine, Rocky Mountain Independent. And let's not forget Tina Brown's decision to leave the mainstream press to grow The Daily Beast.
So, a bit of advice for these young journalists:
- Stop looking for a job and go make one for yourselves.
- Find a topic or beat you love and make it your niche.
- Start a blog and write every day.
- Join a network of blogs or offer to guest author a post on your favorite blog.
- Start a Twitter account and post links to your favorite topic.
- Start conversations on Facebook about your favorite topic.
- Join a Facebook group on your topic and join in conversations there.
- Go to real-life events relating to your topic and meet others activists, writers and businesspeople in that field.
- Read Mashable's How to: launch your indie journalism site