Seven Alternative Job Titles For Arts Journalists

11 Dec
Image by Gwendal_ used under a Creative Commons Licence

Image by Gwendal_ used under a Creative Commons Licence

Freelance Journalist

With publications haemorrhaging money like stuck pigs on a daily basis, they’ve been forced to lay off staff writers to save money. The downside of this is that lots of immensely talented writers have lost their job security.

The upside is that many publications have a freelance budget and will be looking for writers, people who are just like you and me, looking to pitch stories, meet new contacts and get paid for it.

The downside of that is you are competing with some of the industry’s best and most well-known journalists for work. Some publications are terrible at paying invoices on time and you won’t have a guaranteed income from month to month.

Good luck!

Content Creator

A bullshit job title created for journalists by non-journalists who are trying to sound relevant in an increasingly digital age.

Created by online marketer-types to make accepted industry terms like copywriter seem redundant and oh so retro. Journalists do not “create content” journalists write news stories, reviews, previews, interviews and other fun and important things.

See also: Web Content Guru, Web Editor, Word Architect and Senior Syntax Engineer (I might have made some of these titles up. Yes, I definitely did.)

Contributor

A more acceptable title for someone who contributes articles or other works to a site or newspaper. Falls between a staff writer (someone employed by the publication on a full-time basis) and a freelancer, who work on a more casual basis. (see Freelance Journalist for more information).

All in all, this isn’t the worst title on the list, it’s just that’s not very clear; are contributors writers, photographers, artists or editors? This could be one for the corrections and clarifications column.

Sub-Editor

If you’re a struggling journalist, one way to make a bit more money is to find work as a sub-editor for a publication, which means that you’ll be correcting everyone else’s grammatical, factual and ethical errors, and getting very little in return for it. Except money.

While sub-editors are needed badly, they don’t seem to get a lot of respect from their fellow hacks, perhaps because they can sometimes get a little too enthusiastic with the delete button. However, every paper needs a sub-editor, and a lot of journalism schools offer short courses in the subject, so, it could be a fun and enlightening way to make some extra money.

Dramaturg/Special Advisor

The most commonly asked question about the role of the dramaturg is usually, “What’s a dramaturg?” It may sound a bit like the theatrical illness outbreak du jour, “I can’t come to rehearsal today, I woke up feeling like a dramaturg this morning”,  the role of the dramaturg is essential to a theatre production.

Put simply, a dramaturg could be described as an in-house critic; a person that researches, provides cultural and historical insight into the text, liaises with the director, playwright, designer and other crew they are also sometimes as a translator, or a simple communicator who provides critical feedback on a piece while it’s in production. A dramaturg wears many hats, and does several different things depending on the company, the production and the venue, so a good dramaturg is knowledgeable, adaptable and ready for a challenge.

This means a dramaturg could be the perfect role for a theatre critic seeking a new direction in their career, or a those looking to diversify their skills. In film, or another art form, a critic could be a special advisor, which is a particularly useful role for arts journalists with specialist knowledge of a certain era in film, director or subject.

PR

The relationship between PRs and journalists can be strained at the best of times, but more and more journalists are turning to the so-called ‘Dark Side’ and relaunching themselves in the world of PR. From a business and financial point of view, this makes a lot of sense, the pay is a bit better, you can use your many journalism contacts, etc, I’ve often found that the best PRs are the ones that have worked as journalists.

While some might wrestle with the idea of not reporting the news, and instead pitching ideas that could become big news stories, for others it’s become a way of life. PR pays very well if you work for a good agency, and have a senior position, which would suit many cash-strapped journalists in our era of austerity.

Unemployed

I’ll see you in the dole queue.

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2 Responses to “Seven Alternative Job Titles For Arts Journalists”

  1. Lelde December 11, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    Ah, glad to see Web Editor on the list. I’d LOVE to go back to being a Copywriter. The problem with my current job title is that it’s so undefined and easy to misinterpret. I’m not only expected to write, I’m also expected to be some sort of technical whiz even though my CV and application clearly stated that I have a background in journalism and copywriting. I’ve certainly never worked as a developer or IT project manager.
    On day one my boss told me I was hired as the “better writer” and the “more creative candidate” which I haven’t really had much chance to prove. More often than not I feel like I’m failing at my job because I’m no expert in XML, site maps and fixing bugs.
    Sadly, the job description didn’t accurately portray the role, and the interview didn’t provide a better picture either.
    So, my advice is to be wary when applying for so-called “Web Editor” positions. Make sure you know exactly what you’re applying for and that the company know exactly what they’re looking for.

    • trashtaylor December 11, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      Hi Lelde!

      Since I started job hunting earlier this year, I’ve become more and more perplexed by the job titles and descriptions that I’ve read.

      It would appear that a lot of employers are just sticking some words together, and creating roles that need more than one person to fill them because of the skills and experience involved.

      I’ve seen ads for writing roles, but the employer also wants them to have events experience, photoshop experience, social media skills and more technical knowledge. Why can’t a writer just be a writer? From a jobseeker’s point of view, it’s not only irritating, but it also makes it harder to find a job if they don’t have those sorts of skills.

      There are far too many talented people being pushed into jobs that don’t suit them or finding it hard to find work because job titles and descriptions for creative roles are so confusing.

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