What’s Left After Writing: Journalists Pursue Careers Outside News Publications
There is a website called Newspaper Death Watch, which chronicles North American metro dailies that have closed since the website was launched in March 2007. It also lists the dailies that have reduced their publication frequency, or have created a hybrid of print/online content.
The cause of much of this decline has been the preponderance of free online content, leading to plunging levels of advertising revenues. In an online world where everyone and anyone can be a filmmaker, photographer, and/or writer, advertisers have veered from newspapers as a main avenue of reaching customers. As a result, print advertising-driven revenues have fallen dramatically throughout the world and staff began losing their jobs, as newspapers and magazines ceased to be a haven for journalists.
Niche Magazines Are Thriving
Many former journalists however are finding fruitful careers outside news publications, including writing for smaller publications. In Australia, for instance, where ad revenues of print publications peaked in 2008 at AU$5 billion and are now down to AU$300 million, independent magazines with smaller circulations and lower overhead costs are thriving. This has opened the door for many journalists to write for a smaller, more targeted audiences, such as stay-at-home mothers, brides, surfers, or travellers.
Former journalists are also now writing for industry and trade — including healthcare — that produce regular publications for their members. Business journalists in particular can use their expertise in writing about trends, opportunities, forecasts, and analyses for a particular industry, while former medical reporters can now write articles geared to patients or the healthcare industry itself.
Finally, content marketing or brand journalism has proven to be a worthy second career for many former journalists. It calls for the same set of skills, tools, and techniques in order to tell the story of a brand or a company and engage readers to connect with a product. It goes beyond the catchy tagline and the crisp copy of advertising materials to deliver a narrative. It starts a conversation with the reader as it conveys the brand’s history, meaning, value, and relevance.
Tom Scott, CEO of Brand Journalists, says: “Brand journalism is the same as journalism…. Brand journalists, writers who practice journalism-style storytelling on behalf of a company, have to accomplish the same goal: earn and keep an audience’s attention. They have to collect and edit stories about a company and present them to the company’s audience through a variety of media. Stories have to be authentic, full of real people doing real things.”
Although traditional journalism might have faded, journalists themselves are alive and well in their many incarnations, and, as always, opportunities abound for the most intrepid of them.