Caroline Ceniza-Levine, media recruiting expert

(Dec. 8, 2008) I ran campus recruiting for Time Inc from 2002-2007 and also recruited interns and entry-level briefly for ABC News but my first background was financial services so I came to media as an outsider observing in.  What struck me most about journalism jobs was the range of experience and skills that interns/ entry-level brought.  Unlike banking where there is very much a rigid profile, in journalism, there is no one background -- journalism major isn't required, advanced degree isn't required, school paper is typical but may be substituted by good freelancing.  There is also no one career path -- many freelance first but some jump in on the admin side.  So the verdict is out on what the best tactics are.  Networking is huge; editors move constantly and assign stories to people they know.  Staying in the game via good organizational and money mgt skills is huge; the best entry-level and interns I saw were able to juggle school, making money and ad hoc jobs.  The only common denominator I saw was that you should be writing all the time -- with so many online sites there really is no excuse not to have current clips.

Caroline Ceniza-Levine is co-founder of SixFigureStart (, a career coaching firm that specializes in working with Gen Y young professionals.   Formerly in corporate HR and retained search, Caroline has recruited for Accenture, Booz Allen, Disney ABC, Oliver Wyman, Time Inc, TV Guide, and others.  Caroline is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Professional Development at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs and writes an Executive Careers column for, the Classified Information career column for Conde Nast's, a college recruiting blog for, and the Ask A Recruiter column for (2008 Stevie Award winner for Women's Blog of the Year). 

Brian Reich, director of journalism think tank

(Dec. 8, 2008) I am the director of community and partnerships for iFOCOS, a think tank that focuses on the future of media, technology and society.  In addition, I have written a book, entitled Media Rules!, about the future of communications and media in the digital/connected age.

I think I can help to answer questions about what types of jobs are out there and what types of jobs have been scaled back.  For sure, we are focusing a lot on what jobs will there be in the future and what skills young journalists need and where can they get training (or from our perspective, what opportunities exist for them to become their own channel or bypass some of the traditional institutions of journalism to have a greater impact on the conversation).  And others.

Thursday Bram, blogger for CNET

(Dec. 9, 2008) I did the traditional educational path for print journalism — including a stint at the local daily — but wound up working as a full-time blogger after graduation. I write for several companies, including CNET (now owned by CBS).

I did an extensive job hunt after I graduated and had no luck: local media just weren't hiring. I started taking on freelance work online, and wound up with several permanent blogging positions. There's a surprising variety available, from full-time bloggers to guest posters — and they seem to be growing. Many sites actually prefer recent grads, in my experience, over older writers — there's something of a stereotype that older writers just aren't as familiar with various websites and blogging tools.

The skill that a journalist absolutely must have when blogging is the ability to self-edit. There just isn't the system of copy editing in place for online media, so a writer who can put together good posts quickly and without error will certainly be valued over his or her counterparts.

I would advise all new journalists, no matter their filed, to create a website. Blogging can help prove to prospective employers that you're keeping up with your trade, but a static website listing clips and contact information is an absolute minimum.

Thursday Bram
Freelance Writer & Blogger

Jeanne Perdue, editor of Zeus Technology magazine

(Dec. 8, 2008) First rule of Journalism: Spell their names right! This becomes more important as information is digitized and searched digitally.
If you want to make money doing journalism, try technical writing. Pick an industry you are interested in and learn some of the technology and jargon in that industry, perhaps by taking chemistry or engineering courses in college. Every technical area has its own trade journals that need assistant editors and copyreaders. And all the vendors in those sectors need case studies written up, brochures and datasheets composed, and success stories published. There are never enough good writers who specialize in medicine, aeronautics, nanotechnology, engineering or sciences, since most of the professionals in those areas absolutely HATE to write -- they consider it torture!
I personally have made a career of technical writing in the oil and gas industry right here in Houston. Find out what the technology companies are in the place you want to live, and get some exposure to that industry in school and in a first job when you graduate. Then work your way toward the vendors' communication departments and the trade journals, and you can have a lucrative writing career working 9am to 5 pm. And if you get laid off, you can always freelance.
Jeanne M. Perdue
Editor of the award-winning Zeus Technology magazine
(formerly Upstream Technology)
Published by Zeus Development Corp.

Rachel Richardson, reporter at Cincinnati Enquirer.

(Dec. 8, 2008) I'm a communities reporter with The Cincinnati Enquirer.  I'm one of the lucky few I know of who actually landed a journalism job before I finished my bachelor's degree (in history).  I applied to The Enquirer for three years without ever getting a call back or an interview offer.  Cincinnati is now a one-newspaper town, so it's difficult for aspiring journalists here to land a newspaper position without relocating to a different city or state.  I had interviewed with a local community paper during this time, but couldn't afford to take the job -- they offered just $20-22k a year for someone with a college degree.   I finally got my foothold at The Enquirer not as a reporter, but as a graphic designer.  I had begun learning graphic and web design and print publishing as a hobby and then worked in the field to support myself while I pursued my undergraduate degree.  After a year, my graphics editor was reassigned to head up a new edition of the paper and asked me to come with him as a reporter. 

Our paper is owned by Gannett, the nation's largest newspaper chain.  Things aren't looking so well for Gannett or the newspaper industry in general.  Gannett has had to do two layoffs in the past few months -- first a voluntary buyout program and then forced layoffs just last week.  Those with limited skillsets are usually the first to get the axe. 

So, my advice to aspiring journalists is this: Diversify your skillsets.  Journalists these days must be well-versed not just in writing and copyediting, but also in layout design, graphic and web design, photography, and video and animation.  My multimedia and photography background has been instrumental in me not just landing a position at the paper, but also in my current role as a reporter.  I take most of the photos that run with my stories and I'm beginning to do video work, and I still do special projects for our graphics department.  In short, I have made myself a more valuable employee because I can offer the paper more in terms of skills and flexibility. 

Mark Glaser, executive editor of PBS MediaShift

Below is a Q&A with Mark Glaser,  executive editor of PBS MediaShift. The interview was conducted Dec. 9, 2008.

What types of jobs are out there?

The types of jobs out there for young journalists require them to know more than just how to report a story in print or produce a story on TV. They need to be multi-talented on multiple platforms, and understand how to work the web. That means they should know how to report or edit a text story, shoot or produce a video or audio report (and appear in the report themselves), moderate community comments, and use online forums and comments sections and other social media to mine story ideas and sources.

What types of jobs have been scaled back?

I think jobs that are one-dimensional are being scaled back. Also newspaper columnists and arts critics will probably be scaled back in favor of bloggers who can better cover a niche area. Any jobs that are tied to legacy media are going to be suspect, unless the person in the job can evolve and adapt to a new digital reality and get the right skills, as I outlined above.

What sort of jobs will there be in the future?

In the future, journalism jobs will require the following skill sets:
> good reporting
> understanding of multimedia production and editing
> community moderation
> aggregating information from many online sources
> blogging about one particular niche subject

Realistically, what kinds of jobs can someone get right out of college?

These are starting to become more and more scarce. Journalists coming out of college should consider setting up their own website or blog on a subject that they can "own," a niche that can be profitable. That means understanding more than just writing and reporting; it means learning marketing skills, management skills and entrepreneurial skills. They should prepare for a future that could include a lot of freelance work and not as much full-time employment with benefits.

What skills do young journalists need and where can they get training?
As I mentioned above, they will need to learn to be multi-platform and have skills in reporting, text editing, on-air TV or video, on-air audio or radio, multimedia editing and production, online moderation, and social media interaction. Much of this training they can get just by doing it, or there is training at various colleges, community colleges or even places like Poynter U.

What can young journalists do to make themselves standout among other
interns or staff?

They should start their own blog or websites and show off their skills by writing, doing video blogs, running regular audio podcasts and involving their audience in their reporting and writing. Having their own showcase site -- that is successful in its own right -- is a good way to stand out. Check out as a good example of an NYU student who blogs and video blogs to stand out.

Do you have one piece of advice that new journalists shouldn't live without?
Be versatile and learn to be your own boss for freelancing.

Adrienne Dellwo, TV journalist

I've been a professional journalist for 12 years, working mostly in television but also for a newspaper and as a freelancer.

The best advice I could give someone who was starting out is to understand technology.  If they understand basic HTML, web publishing, search-engine optimization and keyword usage, they're going to be a step ahead. Especially at small TV stations, everyone is expected to contribute content to the website, and many stations need someone who can work both on the web and in other capacities.  The more versatile you are, the more marketable you become.

Young journalists also need to recognize the difference between news writing and blogging, yet be able to write well in both styles.

Adrienne Dellwo Guide to Fibromyalgia & ME/CFS

Rachel Thomson, reporter at The Daily World

(Dec. 19, 2008) I've been working at my current job for about 10 months. I graduated high school in 2002 and spent five years in college working on a double-major in print and broadcast journalism. I knew the job market would be tough by the time I graduated, so I decided to gain as many multi-media skills as I could so I would be eligible to apply for more jobs.

When within the first 7 months after graduation, I applied to perhaps 200 jobs, mainly in the Pacific Northwest and California, and got interviews for about 10. I kept getting the same repsonse from editrors. They loved my work samples, but they always ended up giving the position to someone with a year or two more full-time professional experience. I had two internships under my belt during college--one at a radio station and the other at a newspaper, plus had experience working at my university's televison station, writing for the PR department's quarterly publication, and freelance experience at several smaller newspapers in the area.

When employers still weren't biting, I took a 30 hour per week job as the assistant promottions director for Clear Channel Radio in my home town. (The job was more like a gopher's position.) I worked closely with the sales department and spent a lot of time doing inventory for things related to promotions/events. But I also tried to gain more skills at the job. I noticed several of the sales staff had no writing experience, let alone broadcast writing experience, so I convinced my supervisor to let me write commercials, and I even worked with one of the deejays, who was also the Web site designer, to teach me Macromedia Flash and how to post photos I had taken at events on the station's Web site. I stayed at the job for 7 months. About halfway through that period, I started sending out CDs with news packages I had shot at my college TV station, and samples of photos I had taken and edited for Web content along with my clip samples.

Withing three months I was getting calls for job intervews, much more frequently than I had before, and soon I was offered a position at a daily newspaper. I learned the importance of showcasing my skills across multi-media platforms in my job search.

Joe Hight, managing editor The Oklahoman

Published articles are vital to getting a reporting position. It shows much more to those hiring that you're ambitious about being published, rather than having a resume with a college term paper that never was published attached to it. And I can tell you it's a lot more exciting to see your byline in a publication than the grade that you'll receive for the term paper.
Write for your school newspaper. Anyone who intends to pursue a career in written communications, whether it be a newspaper, online site or PR, should be writing for their college newspaper. It's odd to me when I receive resumes from intern applicants who don't have their college newspaper listed as work experience. The college newspaper is a great avenue to get bylines while having a great time and meeting lots of people in the process. (For those creative types who are introverts, it also helps overcome your apprehensiveness about approaching and talking to people before working for a publication outside college.)
Attend journalism conferences. Another strategy that I recommend is finding and applying to conferences, institutes or fellowships that have publications and/or Web sites attached to them. These provide great avenues for you to get a "byline rush" or multiple bylines in a short period of time. They also give you bylines that you can use to apply to other publications and get even more bylines. Many of these also have professional mentors who can give you recommendations and links for the future.
Get your foot in the door now. Any link that you can muster with a publication, either through an internship, stringing or part-time work, will help you be remembered and eventually considered for a position when one becomes open. Many reporting positions are filled by those who have shown their ability and attitude through these capacities.
Do an internship. You should come to your summer internship with ideas and enthusiasm. Editors like interns who are willing to work hard to pursue ideas and get them into the newspaper or posted on the online site. You also should remember that you may have to work your ideas between general assignment stories and projects that are the editor's ideas. Work with the editor to establish priorities on the time needed for your assignments, but treat each as important and be as prolific as possible. Remember also that if you place importance on an editor's idea then he or she might place more importance on the ones that you're pitching, so be the first to volunteer for an assignment. Volunteering during a weekend also increases the chances that you'll get a byline and better play, especially if it's a breaking news event.
I think it is important that you find an internship that will allow you to get as much as coaching and mentoring as possible. This will allow you to improve the quality of your stories during the internship and afterward.
Find publications that will allow to write consistently and have a chance to get many bylines. I tell The Oklahoman's interns every year that one of my goals for them is to have as many Page 1 or cover stories as possible, and that they should compete with staff members for them. I'm excited when I see past interns listing the number of stories that they were able to get on Page 1. It shows that they set high goals for themselves and sought to achieve them.
Develop a broad skill set. Don't just write in one certain area. Write news, features, business and sports. Write profiles, narratives, Q&As, blogs and columns. Write stories using databases. Stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone and find stories that are unusual. Having a broad background of story forms will make you more marketable for a variety of reporting positions, thus increasing your chances of being hired.
In today's multimedia world, your chances of being published have multiplied tremendously. Strive to put your best skills into whatever you do, whether it's in print or online, because you're only one Google search away from being discovered or discounted for your work.
Assemble a strong portfolio. I would advise that young journalists should ask an editor or journalism faculty member to review their clips to determine which ones are best or most pertinent for a reporting position. Toss the ones that have mistakes in them. I tend to look for applicants who display a variety of writing styles in their clips. That's why you should seek ways to write as many different stories as possible so you can be able to pick the best ones that will impress immediately.
Find a mentor. Find an editor who will coach and work with you to improve your copy. I'm amazed that some young journalists think that their stories shouldn't be edited. The best writers are those who always are learning, are open to ideas and are seeking the best possible editing for their stories. Of course, every writer gets a bad edit now and then, but most stories can be improved tremendously by good editing -- the type of editing that adds that extra shine to your byline.

Joe Hight is managing editor of The Oklahoman, a 220,000 circulation daily newspaper in Oklahoma City. He is also president of the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma's Executive Committee. In 1995, he led the team of reporters and editors who covered victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. The Oklahoman's coverage won several national awards, including The Dart Award for Excellence in Reporting on Victims of Violence.

Stu Shinske, executive editor of Poughkeepsie Journal

The new crop of journalists needs to have the latest multimedia skills, a newspaper editor advises. But, more importantly, they need to know the fundamentals: critical thinking and fairness.

"The best thing an aspiring journalist can do is learn about audience needs and become an expert in numerous multimedia applications – video, web programming, etc.," Stu Shinske, executive editor of the Poughkeepsie Journal, recently told

"The key, however, is the ability to analytically think….they need to know how to distill information quickly, think on their feet, ask the right questions at the right time, and learn how to check personal preferences, biases and agendas at the door. Their skills will mean nothing if they’re not, first and foremost, objective…"

From time to time, I like to ask journalism experts and practitioners what tips they have for young journalists. Check out's expanded journalism advice section for more insight from experts.

-Mark Grabowski

Ernest Sotomayor, career services dean at Columbia University School of Journalism

Don’t wait for editors to invite you to interview for a job opening, advises Ernest Sotomayor, assistant dean of career services at Columbia University’s journalism school.
Instead, invite yourself.
“If you travel across the state or country and take the initiative [to contact editors] and say you’re just looking to get a half hour of guidance or want to explore possibilities, they’re usually willing to sit down and talk with you,” he says.
Indeed, The Hill reporter J.T. Rushing took that approach and landed his dream job covering the U.S. Senate.
I recently interviewed Rushing, Sotomayor and others for an advice column I wrote on finding a journalism job in last month’s issue of Quill. Below is some additional advice Sotomayor offered that didn’t make it into my column.
  • Get to know the people who hire at media outlets you’re interested in, and see if you can get your foot in the door by freelancing for them, he says. “A lot of it is getting to know recruiters, hiring editors – people in the organization that you can turn to for advice and counsel on what sort of jobs are available … what their needs are, how to freelance [for them].”
  • “Look back to school,” he also recommends. “Alumni connections are always great… Journalism professors have worked all over the world, and they know people everywhere. A lot of people like to get recommendations from professors who can give them extra insight into a job candidate.”
  • Finally, be open-minded. “It’s like being a reporter in the field writing a story. You spread your wings and look at different possibilities and keep your options open … How willing you are to get up and move from where you are is a factor. The smaller the size of the geographic territory for your job search is, the few possibilities there are … Just be open to a lot of different possibilities. The more things you’re willing to consider, the more opportunities you make available to yourself.”
-Mark Grabowski

Randy Hagihara, L.A. Times hiring editor

Recently, I asked the L.A. Times hiring editor if he had any advice for young journalists. He e-mailed back:

"I can't emphasize enough the importance of summer internships. The more the better. In a competitive job market, editors will want to know that their entry-level hires will be able to hit the ground running -- on a wide variety of assignments. "
Randy Hagihara
Senior Editor for Recruitment
Los Angeles Times

Joe Grimm, career advice columnist fo Poynter Institute

I recently e-mailed Joe Grimm and asked him if he had any advice for college journalists. He responded with a couple tips:
  • "I always advise time-starved students to turn the writing they have to do for classwork into byline opportunities. Double-purposing this way saves time, it can bring clips, perhaps some money and a better grade. Look in 'Writer's Market' to discover a magazine that might buy a variation of that class assignment."
  • "Every college town is loaded with publications. Study them. Treat them as directories of writing opportunities and as sources of stories you can write for out-of-town publications. Smart journalists are always pitching stories that they have access to for distant publications."
Joe Grimm writes a journalism career advice column for Poynter Institute is author of "Breaking In: The Guide to Newspaper Internships." For more advice, visit

Sree Sreenivasan, new media professor at Columbia University

Columbia journalism school's Sree Sreenivasan says young journalists should look online for opportunities to build their portfolio.

"Online publications, which often pay less than print publications (if they pay at all) are an option for beginning journos," says Sreenivasan, who runs the Columbia Journalism School's new media program and is WNBC's tech reporter. "Depending on the site's visibility, it may be a good way to get clips. As someone who did volunteer work for years (and still writes gratis, on occasion), anything that gets you clips is worth considering."

He adds: "Another tip is to start blogging. Having a smart, reporter's notebook-type blog is a way to show an editor your writing and your THINKING skills."

From time to time, I like to ask journalism experts and practitioners what tips they have for young journalists. I spoke with Sree in the spring for an article I wrote for Quill on how to get bylines. If you'd like to submit tips or share experiences, please e-mail me.

Leslie Anne Newell, Arizona Daily Star intern coordinator

Leslie Anne Newell and I were fellow cub reporters at the Arizona Republic nine years ago. She's since reported around the country and is now assistant city editor at the Arizona Daily Star, a 110,000 circulation day paper in Tucson. She also directs the internship program there. Here's her advice to young journalists:
"Networking is incredibly important for young journalists. Companies are looking to cut every corner they can right now, which means not paying the fee to post on journalismjobs or other sites that also charge for the ad. With the state of the industry, companies also aren't hiring as often as they used to, which means fewer jobs for new grads. For both of those reasons, it's incredibly important for students/recent grads to get every foot in every door that they can. They're more likely to hear about positions. But on another hand networking isn't any more important than it ever was. I think managers have always relied on it to some degree. For example, I hire upward of 20 interns a year and I can't tell you how much more it increases a candidate's stock if someone I know sends me a good word about her/him. If a colleague comes back from a conference and gives me a folder on a good candidate, that goes to the top of the pile. If I see a professor at the UA whom I really respect is listed as a reference on a resumé, that also goes to the top. Young journalists cannot do too much right now to make sure they're putting themselves out there. And don't forget to tell them that means follow-up notes to every conversation they have with anyone who might help them."
-Mark Grabowski

Robert Niles, editor of Online Journalism Review

From time to time, I ask successful journalists and editors what advice they have for young journalists. Robert Niles, editor of the Online Journalism Review, says young journalists should go digital with their resumes and reporting. He adds that new media offers great freelance opportunities:

"Blogs are the new resumes. Every journalism student ought to have his or her own blog, ideally located at Blogs should include links to the student's best published work, as well as regular Q&As, observations, photo essays, video features, reviews and commentary -- to fully demonstrate their abilities.

"Online sites, especially ones built on user-generated content, have an insatiable appetite for good copy. Students should engage in online discussion communities, and link to them from their blog, to show hiring editors their ability to participate and manage interactive communities. Volunteering to create original reporting features and reviews for such sites is a great way both to gain leadership status in those communities and to get impressive clips for the student."

Robert Niles
Editor, University of Southern California
Online Journalism Review

Dana Eagles, Orlando Sentinel hiring editor

I asked the Orlando Sentinel's staff development editor if he had any advice for young journalists. Dana Eagles suggests that college journalists create their own opportunities by offering to intern somewhere for college credit:
"It might be worth noting that some newspapers and magazines will allow students to intern part time for academic credit for a semester at a time. This can be an excellent way for younger students to gain some experience even if they don't qualify for a full-time, paid summer internship. For example, every semester we have four or five University of Central Florida students working for us part-time as interns in reporting, editing, photography and online producing. These arrangements might not be formalized in every case. The student might need to take the initiative to invent an opportunity, armed with information about what sort of credit his school is willing to give and how many hours of work are required to get it."
Eagles has also written a must-read article, "How to get a newspaper internship," that outlines how to go about finding and applying for journalism internships.

For more info on both paid and academic internships at the Orlando Sentinel, click here.

Career Tips From Journalism Experts