Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

Curated knowledge, trenchant insights & witty bon mots

Why yes, Virginia, you can have a career in (U.S.) digital journalism

Dave Cohn, executive producer of AJPlus, writes that Felix Salmon’s report on the death of journalism as a career is greatly exaggerated.

… Let’s focus on journalistic “platforms” (again, I think Felix is being a little loose with terms here, but let’s ignore it for now). Felix thinks if you work in the digital journalistic startup space you won’t have a career. Why? Only young people can be good at digital. And digital is changing, so in a few years – you won’t be good at it. You can’t mature. You won’t become more valuable as you gain more experience. “In most areas of life the more experienced you are the more valuable you become” says Felix. But this is not the case for digital journalism.

Then this is said: “You can’t really hope that those skills which you develop over time are going to make you as a person more valuable over time.” – This statement is absurd on its face.

Even if you leave journalism, the skills you gained will be valuable in your career. Thejournalists that won a Pulitzer Prize and has since left journalism can still point to their Pulitzer Prize winning work and in any job interview say “I am a valuable employee that can produce fantastic work, see my Pulitzer. I’ve honed skills and [insert plausible argument here about why employer needs these skills] makes me more valuable than somebody without said skills.”

Back to Felix: “Everyone wants to be a platform, remember that.” This still assumes that creating good platforms, user experience, user interface, etc. is not a skill you can develop over time. Your first crack at Javascript sucks. Your first time managing a project things get crazy. You get better, you develop skills – over time and that makes you more valuable even in the technology space!

Fact: There is more competition. A good media company needs to be a “full stack” company (have good technology) but that doesn’t mean the journalists in a news organization are interchangeable with any 23-year-old that walks into the door.

Fact: I agree with Felix not everyone will be part of the top 1% of superstar journalists. There are only so many Nick Kristof’s that we need. I would also agree that being a journalist isn’t going to make you rich – but that’s nothing new. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a multi-decade career path. You can become more valuable over time.

Wed, April 22 2015 » Main Page, Media