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Journalists Need to be Multitalented to Succeed

In a world where anyone can instantly share news via YouTube and Twitter, is there still a place for professional journalists?

In a world where anyone can instantly share news via YouTube and Twitter, is there still a place for professional journalists? Citizen journalism went mainstream in March 2016 when Fox Television Stations partnered with Fresco News, a company that has signed up citizen journalists in cities across the U.S.

Fresco offers an app that notifies people of open assignments from their local Fox TV stations. Citizen journalists can take on those assignments and submit photos or videos to Fresco, which vets them and passes them along to station producers. If Fox uses the content on the air, Fresco and the citizen journalist each receive payment. But does that mean professional journalists will go the way of the dinosaurs?

"There is still a need for journalists to break stories and tell stories," says Ian Mendes. He has covered the world of sports for many years

"Aggregate reporting has become a big issue in the journalism world, where websites simply steal content from news outlets, put a couple of clever paragraphs and try to pass it off as their own. But if you remove the original journalist's content, you'd be left with nothing. So yes, I think there is a viable career path there - but you need to understand how the landscape has changed over the past 10 years."

One of the biggest changes is the blurring of the lines between print, radio and television. Today's journalist needs to be equally comfortable in all the different types of media.

"We're content producers as much as we are journalists, and we need to get stories out on multiple platforms," says Mendes. "I've really learned to be a multi-tasker since leaving school; with the ability to juggle live television, radio interviews and print stories for online websites at the same time. It's really the key to being a successful journalist in today's marketplace."

There are no set deadlines anymore - it's simply a race to get the news out as fast as possible. That often means posting bare-bones stories and filling them out later as details become available. It also means paying close attention to social media.

"Twitter is constantly open and refreshing when I'm hosting a four-hour radio show. It's like a live feed with all the biggest stories from the world of sports constantly updating themselves," says Mendes. "Social media has also become a badge of credibility and the one nice thing is your Twitter followers are portable - meaning if you get laid off from one job, your audience still comes with you. And that can be a potential selling point when you are trying to get a new job."

It's true that the journalism job market is tough right now, particularly in the print world. Budget cuts and layoffs mean a lot of outlets are relying on freelancers, so aspiring journalists could get their foot in the door that way.

Anyone looking for a job in journalism should remember: content is king. "As long as you can produce unique and interesting content for a specific audience, you can have a shot at landing a job," says Mendes.


American Press Institute
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