Tag Archives: Journalism Jobs

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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Letter to a Young Journalist

5 Oct
Letter to a Young Journalist

Image by A.K Photography, shared under a Creative Commons Licence.

Dear Young Journalist,

I want to talk to you about journalism; the path you have chosen. I don’t want to talk about theatre criticism, arts reviewing or news, but journalism as a career. I want to talk to you about the life that you might lead and the people you will meet.

I want to tell you about the nights you will spend alone, writing, editing, researching. The nights you will miss out on because you will be busy, or the evenings you will lose as you edit yet another blog post.

The first thing I want to tell you is that you have to read to be a journalist. You can’t be a good writer if you don’t read, and you can’t pitch to publications if you don’t read them. Get subscriptions to the publications you want to write for, and read books whenever you can; on the bus, on your lunch break, in the bath and just before bed.

Secondly, I must tell you that unsurprisingly, (well, it was somewhat of a surprise to me) we journalists aren’t always the most respected, or well-liked people on the planet. We are doubted, questioned and dismissed. You will have your integrity challenged and your writing ridiculed, but you will get used to it.

If the there is a ladder that leads to journalism success, then it’s a very long ladder. I like to imagine that it’s made of wood, that it looks sturdy and strong, it’s the kind of ladder your parents might use to go up to the attic, it’s familiar and seemingly friendly. But appearances are deceptive; this ladder is treacherous in places, and it may be risky at points to climb.

In fact, you may have to go down a couple of rungs before you are able to go further in your career. And some rungs on the ladder are unforgiving. Some rungs are old and not fit for purpose. Be wary of these rungs, they will set you back, and if you put too much weight on one of them it will break and you will fall.

You will not fall far, because you will reach out and grab something, anything to steady yourself, but you must remember falling is inevitable. Falling is what I call failing, such as a job rejection, a missed deadline, a misunderstood brief, etc. I’m going to tell you something that will sound strange to you, but not only will you fail at some point as you attempt to climb that ladder, you are going to fail, and I want you to fail.

From a young age, we are taught to believe that failure is a bad thing, that failure is the worst thing we can ever do, but I disagree. It is only when we fail that we can truly learn from our experiences. I’ve failed at this many times; missing job deadlines, not staying in touch with contacts, etc, but it’s how we deal with out failures that really matters. The trick is to go with it, so if you feel sad, allow yourself to cry, if you’re angry, then find a way to healthily express that anger.

Do what you have to do, just pick yourself up and move on with new knowledge, and safeguards to stop yourself committing the same mistake again.

Next we need to discuss money, because if you’re going into journalism for the wage, then you’re going to get a shock. We don’t make a lot of money, because journalism isn’t very well paid, and it’s getting even harder to make money from it. So, you’re going to do a lot of unpaid work in the beginning to build up your portfolio and have something concrete to show an editor. Once you have experience and once you’ve started to get pretty good and reliable, then start asking for money.

No one is going to pay you for the hell of it, you will have to prove that you are worth paying. Never undersell yourself, know your worth and know the law. There are many internships in journalism, some of them are really great, but others won’t lead anywhere; be hungry, but wise and know the law.

The current law on internships in the UK is that all interns are entitled to the National Minimum Wage, so those internships that offer travel expenses, lunch expenses, or offer expenses at the end of a three-month internship – avoid them like the plague. Your time and your future is worth so much, so again, read, be aware of your rights and stand up for yourself. Intern does not mean ‘subhuman’ never forget that.

That’s all I can say for now, I’ll see you on the ladder.

Cheers,

Trash

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