A career in business journalism – Quartz
Being in a newsroom teaches you to be a journalist. But it takes a network of support and encouragement from peers, colleagues, sponsors and mentors to help you navigate the industry.
The sixth and final webinar in Quartz’s business journalism series this year focused on career development. Quartz seminars are aimed at early-career journalists and editors and focus on the fundamentals of business journalism, the evolution of the industry, and how to make the field more accessible to journalists and the public.
Panelists Stephen wisnefski, talented associate editor at The Wall Street Journal; Josee rose, editor at Insider; and Emma Carew Grovum, founder of Kimbap Media shared his thoughts during a session moderated by Jackie Bischof, editor of Quartz Talent Lab.
âYour first internship, or journalism school, will teach you the value of a nut chart, but not necessarily the value of networking,â Bischof said. Here are the panelists’ thoughts on how to build and nurture these relationships.
How to build a career network?
The first step is to find a work friend, peer, spouse or someone you admire to mentor or coach you early in your career, explained Carew Grovum. It could be as simple as saying, “Saw you at this webinar, thought what you had to say was really interesting, do you mind if we keep in touch?” Or you can track your meeting with a recruiter at a career fair by submitting your clips and asking for feedback. It’s about constant monitoring – the same approach you would use to build your source list, said Carew Grovum, who is also a co-author of the OpenNews column Sincerely, Leaders of Color.
And if a person is too busy, don’t worry. âIf you get shot down by a mentor or a potential coworker, it’s not the end of the world,â she said. Focus not on the person, but on your goals and the direction you want to take next.
How has the journalism job market evolved?
Journalism has a reputation for being a place where you need connections to enter, or to be successful and rise through the ranks. Bischof asked Stephen Wisnefski, who has had a long and successful career at the Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, if he thinks that has changed.
While the fundamentals are still needed, the universe of skills has changed, Wisnefski said. In recent years, the Journal has taken steps to hire more people who can move beyond traditional reporting, writing and editing roles, and work with audio, video, graphics and live journalism. Essentially, the newsroom is looking to hire people who can engage audiences in new ways and build communities around content.
“Our understanding of what is needed to serve our audiences and our digital practices have evolved a lot, âsaid Wisnefski. “What I’m looking for are smart, capable people, [and] pleasant.”
How do you know which skills to pursue?
It’s a potentially overwhelming array of careers to explore, Bischof noted. Whereas previously journalists only had to decide whether they wanted to work in print, broadcast or digital media, there are now a ton of avenues to explore in an industry and even a publication.
A mentor will help you see the bigger picture. You might have an idea of ââwhat kind of journalist journalist school you would like to be, but the middle steps you take can seem like a lot different. Mentors can help you open up different avenues, while sponsors within your business can identify and even connect you to these opportunities.
JoseÃ© Rose from Insider started working on pagination at the Wall Street Journal. She told her boss that she wanted to know more about what was featured on the pages; ultimately, it helped her make the transition to the Dow Jones newswire. She tries to stay in touch with the people she has met in her previous jobs. âAlways make sure the bridge is there because you never know how you’re going to connect or cross later,â she said.
What is your advice in terms of focus versus acquiring as many skills as quickly as possible?
It’s important to slow down and get on top of the things you’re hired to do, Rose advised. She recalled worrying about being ignored if she hadn’t learned to do everything when she was younger. Instead, she advises patience: in the first trimester you’re going to mess everything up, in the second trimester you’re going to get it, in the third trimester you’re going to really feel confident, so just keep that schedule. in mind. âWhen you feel really confident you can start asking to try new things and people will allow it,â she said.
“The desire to do more is a good thing, but you have to really master what you are hired to do, and once you demonstrate that mastery, people will have confidence that you can take on a new challenge,” added Wisnefski. Eliminate what you’re asked to do and at some point you’ll get the extended task you want, he said.
Crovum added that small newsrooms provide the opportunity to raise your hand and quickly gain skills and experience in various fields. This is especially true for people who come up with solutions instead of complaints. âThe ability to problem solve will always come in handy in this industry, no matter what type of position you are looking for,â she said.
Over time, you will be connected with other people. Keep a list of those names, and in three to six months, when you’ve got the basics right, explore diversification a bit, Rose said.
What should I do to stay competitive?
Work on sourcing and extracting proprietary information. Know your subject inside out and combine that subject matter expertise to get the right information you need. People can switch from one rhythm to another if they are able to stock up, Wisnefski said.
Rose agreed: when the time is right and if you’re ready to move on to a new opportunity, people will review your ability to research and write. You can easily apply these types of transferable skills to the job you aspire to.
Hiring managers look for a range of backgrounds, backgrounds, and ethnicities, each of which can bring a refreshing perspective to a position and which you can highlight in an interview. âThere is room for people to tailor their story in a legitimate and compelling way for the hiring manager,â Wisnefski said.
The cover letter is also a great place to tell the story that your resume doesn’t, advised Carew Grovum.
Rose added that she has tried to keep questions open when hiring because she is more interested in how a candidate thinks.
Keep journalistic networks open
One of the best ways for journalists to ensure that the industry doesn’t go on a closed loop is to intentionally let people in by offering advice or making connections. If you’re at a point in your career where you feel good about yourself and want to give back, consider putting a few hours a week on your calendar to chat with people, said Carew Grovum.
âThe first thing we can all do is just be available,â she said. âWhere are the gaps that we see in our industry and in our recruiting, and how do we fill them? Saying, âI did it and let me guide you. Rose said she created an open door policy for Insider people and also contacted cats to make people feel comfortable around her.
The opportunities for mentoring, sponsorship and career development support will manifest in different ways during a journalist’s career, Bischof said. Sometimes they are regular and continuous, and sometimes they are contained within five minutes of advice. Journalists can do a lot for the industry by reaching out to others.
Find previous webinars in this series here. Do you have ideas for a future discussion? Let us know at [email protected]