Stepping beyond the bounds of journalism

Andrea James was one of the few holdovers from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer as it stopped the print presses earlier this year and converted to an all-online organization. Now the business reporter is leaving the industry to become a researcher for an investment bank, and she pens a heartfelt explanation that thousands of us can understand.

What I admire the most is her willingness — after quite a bit of soul-searching — to never-say-never about broadening her horizons. The collapse of the newspaper business certainly contributes to having an open mind, but there are other factors at work:

“Here’s what I think now, given the present flux in media: Trying new things maintains career growth and passion. And the same personal qualities that led me to pursue journalism — a love of writing, a desire to understand and make sense of how the world works — are what intrigue me about investment research. In short, I’ll still get paid to ask questions.”

Indeed, the opportunities to use journalism skills in other fields are plentiful, and a new career environment can be highly re-energizing, as attested to here, here, and here. I had my say on this topic earlier this year, and I don’t feel differently now. But like James, I’m not closing the door to any possibilities.

A few additional thoughts from James on the profession she’s leaving behind, to those who are still sticking around:

“The future will include more democratization of data, more citizen engagement, more unpaid writers, fewer generalists, more amateurs with fan followings, a greater appreciation for quality business reporting, and a whittling down of traditional journalistic authority against the rise of the niche-hobbyist-turned-pro.

“The notion of journalists as gatekeepers is obsolete — those who pridefully struggle to hold onto that antiquated view will watch helplessly as information flows around, over and beneath the gates. Those who humbly embrace these changes will become the new stars, appreciated for their ability to generate unique content while at the same time navigating and making sense of the information flow.”

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