The journalism grad of the new millennium

A decade ago, you needed a degree, the skills and some gumption to have a chance to land a successful career in journalism. A few decades before that, just the know-how and the keener attitude would suffice. And before that, when all the journalists resembled Rosalind Russell and Cary Grant, just the attitude might get you in the door. But today’s grads? They need to have a whole other arsenal of tricks up their sleeves.

Crystal Lauderdale, Video & Multimedia Product at New York Times Company, says “graduates need more than a degree. They need technical ability, internship experience, clips on a portfolio site, a non-academic reference and a love of story telling.”

According to Lauderdale, who spoke to Advancing the Story‘s Deb Wenger, new graduates need (to include a few):

  • A degree that cover all platforms (preferably with a double major)
  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • An internship
  • Computer/web publication skills
  • Writing and image composition skills.

And the list goes on and on.

Robert Niles of the Online Journalism Review recently posted two polls: Which skills have you mastered in your career, and which would you like to develop? He included a variety of different skills including photography, on-air reporting, HTML design, promotion, advertising sales and sound editing (and omitted reporting, writing and editing, as he assumes all journalists out the door can do it).

The top for each:

Mastered skills: Photography and photo editing,  online community management and moderation and (tied for third) videography and video editing and sound recording and editing.

Developing skills: Videography and video editing and (tied for second-place) sound recording, web programming and mobile application development.

Niles is quick to point out that it’s not necessary for a journalist to master all of these skills, but that “the more skills you develop, the more freedom and flexibility you have as a journalist in the online publishing market.”

So with the industry still recovering and floods of new recruits and old, laid-off pros jockeying for positions at the same papers, what’s a journalism grad to do? How does one get ahead? Or, heck, forget ahead—how does one simply get a job? My very unscientific answer is that you just try and try and try and try some more, all the while learning new things and advancing your skills, and eventually the hard work will pay off.

But that’s just my thoughts—I’d really like to know how all you recent grads (or, better yet, 2011 and 2012 grads) are planning on getting ahead.