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Friday, September 13, 2013

To be a journalist

The days of Jimmy Olson cub reporter are long gone. Today to become any form of journalist you need a four year college degree, in communications or some other areas of liberal arts. You are expected to be well-rounded, a first rate writer (and speller), be reasonably good looking, and come across well in print, on radio and on video.

Newspapers require reporters to do blogs, both written and video. Television expects video blogs and to double as radio anchors or reporters. For radio you need to be web-saavy and willing to do all you can to keep the stations web site up to date, interesting and interactive.

There are no fact checkers and often too much for an editor to read, proof or rewrite. News happens 24/7 and all media, including print, are expected to bring you fast and accurate news.

As to accuracy, it is up to the producers and reporters who are expected to report quickly, and not make mistakes. If you make mistakes, you risk demotion, loss of valuable sources, or in the worst case termination (there are always dozens of qualified candidates waiting to take your job).

At the local level money is tight, as advertisers and supporters learned during the height of the Great Recession how to get around large traditional media buys,or were forced to cut marketing budget to keep employees or their company afloat.

All media, including web based media, are struggling to define themselves, to find ways to be profitable and to maintain a credible news reputation, despite journalism dropping to near the bottom on polls of public trust (just above Congress).

But it is a fun,challenging and socially needed profession.

So go forth and do the best you can, make a difference and find strength in helping others.

Do not go in with stars in your eyes, as less than half a percent make those "big bucks" you hear about on network and cable TV.

It's a profession of belief, social responsibility and both vocation and avocation.

Also, live life before you jump into the journalist pool. It will help in your reporting and your career to know other aspects of life, other ways of making a living and how other people think and perceive the world around them.

-Art Lynch

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