Help Wanted: From graduation to gainful employment

Class of ’09 leading the industry’s transformation by ahoffstrom
Amanda Hoffstrom

Amanda Hoffstrom

The change in media is definitely affecting my job search. For one, I didn’t expect to use LinkedIn, Visual CV, Twitter, a blog, Facebook and a number of other digital tools to market myself to potential employers. These outlets became available during my time in college, so that in itself is a major shift.

Secondly, the types of jobs I’m looking at and applying for are different than what I initially anticipated four years ago. When I started college as a wannabe journalist, I envisioned myself writing and reporting at a major daily newspaper. I wanted to work for a newspaper like the Star Tribune, a paper my family has subscribed to since I was born. Well, the Star Tribune is one of a handful of papers that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy this year. The Tribune Co. filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2008, the Rocky Mountain News ceased publication in February and the Sun-Times Media Group filed for bankruptcy in March, a day later the Detroit Free Press cut its home-delivered print edition to three days a week and expanded coverage to the Web. To say the least, I’ve had to change my expectations a bit.

For me, the first true sign of media changing came in February 2008 when The Capital Times, one of two papers in Madison, announced plans to reduce its print edition in favor of increased online coverage. It was the first time I had heard of a paper shifting from primarily print to primarily Web. Last week, I was quoted by the Cap Times in an article about the high number of students enrolling in UW-Madison’s j-school despite the changing news media. Students continue to join the major because they see an opportunity, not a crisis.

I said, “In a way, this is a very exciting time because we can be the ones who can reinvent this industry.” I absolutely think our generation—especially the Class of 2009—will redirect journalism toward a viable, technologically-engaging platform.

Whether or not the best platform is a free print edition mixed with Twitter and digital layouts, my j-school friends and I are anxious to get in the field and make a difference. We’re just as passionate and excited about reporting as we would be if it were just print – maybe even more so. I think the shift in media makes us better reporters because we can see reporting packages. I can visualize how a story will read, how it can be supplemented with photos and video, how I can engage an audience through Twitter, Delicious and other online outlets. Writing is so vitally important, but the other elements add character to a story. I just hope that news organizations will hire some new grads who are eager to help.