Journalism’s growing alumni class

Finding Daniel Pink’s “Free Agent Nation” very motivational and useful as I embark upon a number of freelance and other writing and web assignments in my post-newsroom career. Although it was written several years ago at the height of boom times, it’s got some bracing advice especially now in this economy, whether you’re going solo or not:

” ‘Job diversity’ is essential because ‘job security’ has evaporated.”

The author, a former Al Gore speechwriter, lays out the concept of actually working along the lines of “horizontal bonds” — a very refreshing concept for those of us accustomed to operating in a vertical org-chart world. This is nothing new for the entrepreneurial set, which has set up its own professional networks and associations. Pink dubs them “F.A.N. Clubs” and expands on the growth of corporate “alumni” associations.

That trend also figures to accelerate in the journalism professions as thousands of us have left our newsrooms in the last few years, with many leaving the field altogether. Not long before I took my buyout, a former editing colleague established a Facebook group for AJC “Second Lifers” and started a similar alumni group on LinkedIn. The ranks have been swelling, and the contact, support and encouragement have been tremendous.

But these groups are more than social. Next week some of my fellow ex-colleagues will lead a discussion at the Atlanta Press Club on career reinvention for journalists. While many of us are discouraged with what’s happening in the newspaper industry that employed us, we’re learning how to refashion our skills, interests and common experiences for work beyond the newsroom.

For someone like myself not wild about networking, this a comfortable way to get started. As Pink writes, these groups exist

” . . . not because of ex-employees’ allegiance to the corporate mother ship, but because of their allegiance to others who did time at the same place. Once again, horizontal loyalty is the bond.”

If you’re a former journalist, or a journalist outside of a newsroom environment, do you belong to an “alumni” association? What’s been the benefit?

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