By Madison Lattner | Staff Writer
To be a successful journalist in this day and age, it takes more than simply the ability to knock out a good story. The skill sets essential to making it in this cut-throat field have evolved; where aspiring writers before would simply take a job at their local paper and work their way to the big leagues, modern reporters need to have a blog, audio and video reports, as well as some quintessential business skills under their belt. Why does a career based around storytelling now require additional marketing skills? Is expertise in this area really vital to a reporting job?
Ultimately, yes it is. While journalists contribute to the success of publications with their writing, their ability to fund and promote their reports is of equal importance. Consequently, no matter how brilliant a writer’s work might be, if they lack the skills to share this with the public, no one will know to recognize it (it will not get out and published), nor will they receive the funding to do their job again.
The director of the journalism program at New York University, Jeff Jarvis, has a lot to say about the importance of these business skills and how they are crucial to an outstanding journalistic career: “It’s important for journalists to understand how to sustain the business of news,” Jarvis told me via e-mail. “That is my not-so-hidden agenda in teaching the entrepreneurial journalism course. When I came up in the business, we were told not to sully our hands with business—indeed, we didn’t have to when we worked for monopolies. But today, we must give journalists an understanding of business so they can make good decisions as journalists and managers, so they can work independently (as more and more of them will), and so they can sustain journalism” (PBS MediaShift).
In a digital world especially, where print journalism is already headed towards extinction, reporters need to possess the skills not only to write exceptional pieces, but to market their work well in an insanely competitive market. Professors and other journalistic educators are recognizing these business and marketing skills necessary to success in ad sales for publications. This realization is resulting in journalism majors not only sharpening their writing and storytelling skills, but also becoming trained in marketing their publications to businesses for advertising purposes. Marketing ad spaces in newspapers and magazines promotes the businesses, funds publications, and creates an additional skill set for journalists.
As the funding of publications is the future of publications, it is crucial for journalists to possess the business and marketing skills to successfully sell ads. So for all you aspiring journalists, I hope you can sell, because our livelihood depends on it.