Today’s communication majors must be multi-skilled to make it in today’s multi-media world. There was a time in the distant past where broadcast journalism majors were trained to work in television or radio news and print journalism majors were taught how to write for a newspaper or magazine. As multi-media storytelling becomes more prevalent and new news and entertainment mediums are created, it’s a smart idea to diversity while in college-it’s the best preparation for today’s job market.
Learn to write for many mediums.
That feature story you may be writing for the lifestyle section of the newspaper or for a magazine spread may also be repurposed for a blog post or to use on social media websites. Learning how to write the web is imperative; it’s different than writing for print. It may be shorter and may be formatted differently. Likewise, a print story could also be told through video or heard via a podcast. Being able to tell the same story in different ways and in different lengths will give you an edge. Practice writing for print, for the web and for broadcast mediums.
Learn to produce and edit digital video.
Many print reporters are sent to covers stories with a digital video camera in tow. As newspaper websites begin to incorporate video, editors will be looking for skilled news writers who are also savvy with video and web editing skills. Gone are the days when television was the exclusive place to see footage of an event. Newspaper today are being competitive my offering multimedia news stories to accompany traditional reporting.
Learn SEO and social media.
Writing for the web is different, not just in formatting and how the content lays on the page, but also in optimizing the content for search engines. Having a basic understanding of keywords, metadata and alt tags will set you apart from others. Also, as many news organizations expect reporters to promote their own stories, having a keen understanding of best practices in social media is important.
Learn to edit web content. Better yet, learn graphic/web design and basic programming.
You don’t to be a programmer to manage websites today; user-friendly content management systems are in place at most major websites. But, being seasoned in working within content management systems is something distinctive to include in your resume. Create a free WordPress site (perhaps as part of a class project) to get familiar with a basic CMS. At the same time, take a few graphic design classes to gain an understanding of creating graphics and documents. This will give you an incredible edge when entering a newsroom or production facility.
Consider related–or unrelated–minors.
Going along with the other tips, consider minoring or double majoring in areas that will help you sell yourself after graduation. Many colleges are integrating social media and Internet marketing into their marketing programs; if so, consider minoring in marketing. Other combination ideas could be graphic design, computer programming or advertising.
Careers in communications, specifically in journalism, are changing. Well-researched, objective stories still need to be told. Bloggers and citizen journalists add flavor to the mix, but professional, ethical news gatherers are not likely to be totally replaced. To gain an edge in this now very competitive field, get an edge on others aspiring journalists by diversifying while in college. Graduate with a varied portfolio, a few exciting internships and a unique blend of coursework and you’ll be sure to make it to the short-list of candidates for a prized position.