Folks become journalists for a lot of different reasons, but some common ones are a love for a writing or storytelling, a need to know, and a knack for backing complex things simple.
Folks can stay a journalist or use those skills today. It just takes extra effort.
Former journalist Scott Hepburn shares some ideas to help in A Journalist's Survival Guide. Let me share some of his steps:
Hang Your Shingle and Start Building an Audience
He suggests that every reporter should blog - on their own. He points to Chris Brogan’s “If I Started Today” post as a guide. And Chris has good advice in the post about blogging - buy your own domain, decide on a type (personal brand, something for consumers or one featuring stories and photos of causes you support) but I recommend Brogan's post on My Best Advice on Blogging. It's actually a list and links to 11 other posts, all worth reading.
I also suggest you start reading Pro Blogger. (A post I bookmarked recently is Creating a Blog Plan. One of the most bookmarked-posts of ProBlogger in delicious was 31 days to Building A Better Blog, which is a list of links to 31 posts.
If you want one post on getting started with a blog, start with Mindy McAdams Start a Blog.
If you want to see how one journalist executes a blog on a subject he knows, read this piece from NewsPay on Tom Mangan, who created the Cat Stock Blog. The blog is about Caterpillar Inc., the world's largest manufacturer of engines, earthmovers and mining equipment.
Bill Mitchell's post on How to Make Your Blog a Paying Business looks at Mangan's effort in detail. Mangan, who is still a copy editor and page designer at the Mercury News, works on the blog daily.
Diversify Your Offerings
You're not likely to get by doing one thing anymore. Flint Journal columnist Andrew Heller is a perfect example of this - he's got his newspaper column, supercharging that with blogging, a radio show (weekday mornings from 7-9 on WFNT-AM (1470), and he self-published his own books after The Journal got out of the book business. He taught journalism at the local community college. He makes speeches in the community and he works hard at learning new things.
On LinkedIn, he describes himself this way:
"Columnist, blogger, talk show host, publisher, communications consultant."He's following advice Scott shares:
You can't do one thing anymore. You have to hedge your bets. Sure, be a journalist, but be a news reporter AND a columnist/blogger. Do some PR work, too. And freelance writing. And…whatever. You’ll need multiple income streams to survive in a decentralized information economy.Diversity will count as making money just blogging is hard. Did you read "Hanging Up the Pajamas?" (Susan Mernit pointed me to this "priceless" update.)
Get Closer to the Cutting Edge
Scott suggests you have to "dabble with new stuff," hardware, software, websites. Like others, he suggests you…play around.
One of the commenters on Scott's post started a blog as a way of answering some of the questions she kept getting about new media. Erin even has a list of The Best of Me Media to help you get started. Her "Social Media for non-Techies" blog is easy to read.
Still working in the newspaper business is Gina Chen, the blogging mom who also writes Save the Media. Her series on reinventing journalism is worth a read. Then, follow her advice. If a working mom can find time, almost everyone can.
One of the best resources is Wired Journalists. As the tag there says
"You're a journalist who wants to build your skills, serve your community, and advance your career. We're here to help."On Feb. 8, 3,269 folks are signed up as members on the network. You'll find tutorials, advice, blog posts, videos - lots to help figure out the future.
Go forth and multiply those opportunities.