For the recent graduates at the 2014 Excellence in Journalism conference, slinging resumes and business cards at employers is the name of the game.
Journalists applying for their first job out of college have a diploma and, hopefully, an internship or two under their belts. To add another notch to that belt, veteran reporters, editors and media savvy folks at the conference were kind enough to offer their advice to those just starting out.
Nathan Gunter, managing editor of Oklahoma Today, took a deep breath before embarking on a long list of advice.
“There’s just so much I’d like to tell young grads,” he said.
He started with what he said was the most important.
“You have to do the work because you love it. You can’t do it because you think you’re going to get rich or famous. If you love your work, your work will love you back,” he said.
Gunter added that sometimes those starting out have to “pay their dues.” He encouraged taking any assignment, seeming willing to learn and help out and being congenial to employees.
“Journalists talk. Your reputation is the most important thing,” he said.
Gunter said a can-do spirit will get you far.
“Never use the words ‘that’s not in my job description,'” he said.
Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism
“Young grads need to be getting skills in digital media and particularly data journalism,” she said. “As the field is changing very rapidly, you need to have the fundamentals in writing and critical analysis, but you also need the newest digital knowledge.”
The director of broadcast sales at The Associated Press, Larry Price, said there is too much mediocrity among candidates.
“You’ve got to have certain talents: write well, think on your feet, be smart. You have to do more. The day of the specialist is pretty much over. You have to do it all while being good at the basics, too,” Price said.