When you get your first job as a journalist, do not expect to make much money. I have already told you about my first job. Although I stayed with the paper after graduation and was brought into the office as a full time employee, I still wasn’t making much money. I found out that everyone in the news room was in the same boat. Journalism, at least on the smaller scale levels, does not pay very well.
Newspaper reporters can make a living, but not expect to make good money unless they become editors or columnists. Columnists have to then be syndicated or have a strong following in order to make a decent living. Becoming a columnist takes times and you have to pay your dues by writing as a reporter until you get your break.
You may decide to stick with your first job or just build a resume and move on. If you want to grow, you should keep your portfolio and resume updated and continue to look for better opportunities. The type of opportunities that you seek out depends on the results you expect to attain in your career. As is the case with following other career paths, you need to set a long term goal for yourself as well as short term goals on how you can get to where you want to be.
Your long term goal may be to be an editor of a paper, work on a magazine or be a television reporter. If so, then you are only likely to achieve one of them by working as a newspaper reporter. But, again (and I can’t say this enough) working as a newspaper reporter is the best on the job training that you can get if you want to pursue a career in journalism, or any career in writing. It teaches you to write fast, think fast and meet deadlines. Your writing skills will improve dramatically when you work in this field. Unless you want to stay with the newspaper and become an editor or columnist, you may want to use the newspaper as a stepping stone.
If you like being a newspaper reporter and are happy with this type of job, there is no reason to change. Not everyone who goes into journalism dreams of the Pulitzer prize. Some are content with working at local papers and being close to home. They get to know their community and can eventually move up in the company where they started.
As for me, I was not the type who wanted to be an editor. I don’t have the eye for fine details. I liked my job reporting and my goal was to become a columnist for the paper. I finally achieved my goal earlier this year after taking 6 years to get there. I got the job when the columnist we had retired. Instead of applying for the job through the normal channels, I wrote a column so that the editor could see what I did. You will find that in the journalism field, you need to take action.
You may not have any idea what you want to do in the long term as you begin your career in journalism. That is fine, too. You should work in your field and get as much experience as possible so that you can broaden your horizons and decide what you want to do. Even if you opt for just staying local as a news reporter, you should at least know what else is out there.
By continuing to gain experience, build a portfolio and also take additional schooling, you can rise to the level you desire in the field of journalism.
One thing to remember - Journalism is a very competitive field. If there is a job that you want, you have to take action to try to get it. This is not a field for shrinking violets.
Chances are that your first job in journalism will lead to many others and that this is just the start of an exciting career in the field of journalism. If you are competitive, willing to work hard and learn about the field of journalism, you will find much success when you choose this as your career, no matter what your long term goal is for your future.
Good luck in pursuing your career in journalism. Remember, you do not have to be Hemingway to make a living at writing. There are plenty of ways to make money when pursuing a journalism career, especially if you are open to internet or freelance writing.