So what is that journalists can do?

One of the constant refrains I hear from folks who’ve left journalism is how easily they’ve learned to translate their skills and experience in ways that are often difficult to contemplate from inside the newsroom.

And there isn’t a whole lot of constructive reinforcement out there, especially in light of a fresh men-will-be-boys feud over whether journalists are to blame for their fates. None of this is helpful for those of us looking to reinvent our journalism careers, or who just want to get another job, and soon.

My longtime tribe, sportswriters, can be a particularly bitter lot, and many, many posts on the popular message board reflect some of the most notorious kvetches in the profession.

But a recent topic thread there is devoted to “success stories” from some ex-journalists who’ve made the transition into other fields, and I found this one in particular highly encouraging. I include that post nearly in full below, but read through the entire thread for some very helpful ideas on how to market your talents and zero in on some meaningful work in a new venue (if not profession):

“We can juggle several projects at once; we can complete them on deadline and with a healthy degree of accuracy; we can write well, and you’d be shocked by how rare that is; we can type quickly and usually have above-average computer skills; we are generally experienced at being civil and getting information out of people who are upset or don’t particularly want to talk to us; we are used to putting in a hard day’s work, usually for far less reward than most real businesses would dare pay their employees; most of us have more investigative skills than we probably think we do; most of us have college degrees, again it’s shocking what a rare commodity they are in the real world.

“Putting stuff like that on your resume gets it more attention than just saying ‘I was a staff writer for Podunk Press’ and expecting them to understand the kind of work that entails.

“I don’t think it hurts to look at non-traditional sources when you’re searching for alternate employment. I spent months slamming my head against the dying print wall before I finally started applying to other sources. I landed a job auditing liar mortgage loans (the one growth industry in the economy). I was surprised at how well my skills translated.

“Some newspapers have a way of emotionally devaluing their employees and making them believe they’re less skilled and that their work is less difficult than it actually is (yes, I am bitter). Don’t let the bastards win.’ ”


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