The high-profile journalism and broadcasting jobs in the mainstream media attract far more candidates than there are openings. The media training program you enroll in must prepare you for the realities of this highly competitive field – one that is undergoing massive, fundamental change in the 21st century.
- The days of cub journalists cutting their teeth in the newsroom straight out of high school are long gone. Some sort of media training in college is a must for a newspaper journalist job, and 4-year degrees are strongly preferred. Keep in mind that college pedigree is a strong factor in this field. Seek admission to the highest regarded journalism schools possible, but beware that the competition for these slots is intense. Only the very top echelon media jobs pay well to start. Without a degree from a top university, your first job is very likely to be with a small newspaper in a small market.
- Those interested in radio broadcasting might find a radio broadcasting school to be a preferable alternative to 4 years of college. Keep in mind, however, that such schools often operate with very little oversight. Try to get a feel for how area employers regard the school’s program, and verify that program graduates are actually working in the field. Graduates of even the highest regarded media training schools, however, may be at a disadvantage against the graduates of a well-regarded college program.
Once enrolled, you must take every opportunity to gain work experience. Get involved as much as possible with your school newspaper or radio station, and be prepared to take on some non-paying or low-paying internships as well. Particularly if you are interested in a broadcast media career, you must find a way to stand out with potential employers. This is a people-intensive business, and it is understood that the trade-off for the long hours and low-to-no pay is the chance to gain exposure, contacts, and mentors.
- Any discussion of media training in this day and age must include the so-called new media - internet blogs and on-demand audio/video streams. It is an absolute necessity that your training encompasses such skills as blogging and podcasting. Even established professional broadcasters and journalists are retraining in these areas, and in some cases are leaving their old jobs and organizations altogether.
Much has been made of the financial struggles engulfing major newspapers and other mainline media organizations. Persons entering this field should give strong consideration to possible alternate employers, particularly internet media companies. The demand for internet content is immense, and an increasing number of blogs and web sites will pay you to write and post your own content. If opportunities in traditional media institutions are slipping away, look to the new ones opening up. Above all else, your media training should put you in a position to seize these opportunities.