Don’t Be a One Trick Pony
You can’t just be a writer or a photographer for a living anymore—you have to have some sort of working knowledge of many different skills, like blogging, crafting a press release, social media marketing, long-form writing, Photoshop. Every little bit helps. Especially when you are a freelancer.
I’ve written all sorts of things for clients—from keyword infused web copy to 3,000 word feature stories. I’ve shot and edited video, shot and edited photos, and more. I call myself a writer/editor, but the world might call me a multimedia journalist.
As a freelancer, your client might be looking for one specific thing—like a press release—and hire you to craft those for them. If you have a good working relationship, you can show this client your other skills, which could turn into other work. But what if you aren’t a freelancer? What if you have no background in writing at all but are a smart, capable person? The Atlantic Media Company might be looking for you.
The Atlantic Media Company has created Quartz, a digital title that is looking to hire the best brains in the biz—with or without a journalism background. Editor in Chief at Quartz, Kevin Delaney, told CapitalNewYork that their target reader is “global business leader—someone who is international and does business around the world and is in some leadership capacity in their organization. We want to reach people traveling around the world on business constantly.”
So, if you have a background in Economics and are pursuing a Ph.D. in the hopes to work in academia, you might have another outlet. This might make you J-School grads — cringe. I know it twinged me for a minute. Academics and journalists working side by side in harmony? Take a deep breath and read on…
The Atlantic Media Company, who also publishes the 155-year-old The Atlantic, has done well with their hiring over the past several years.
At the forefront of the company’s hiring policies is the desire to build a culture around values – force of intellect and a spirit of generosity – that is, at times, difficult to articulate. These values have taken on heightened significance in the digital era because journalists and non-journalists – who haven’t always spoken the same language, or cared to – must now not only be comfortable sitting in the same room with each other, they are expected to contribute to the conversation about the best ways to serve the company’s consumers. Shared values can help create common ground. —Poynter.org
The corporate culture for media outlets is changing—it has to in order to survive! Some of my favorite magazines (RIP, ReadyMade) have shut their doors in recent years. Others, like GOOD and several national newspapers I recently wrote about are finding ways to do more with less staff. You can’t simply be a copy editor and rely on having the same job for the next 10 years.
At The Atlantic, veteran journalists write for the print publication while new hires write a little for print and a little for the online publication. Transforming traditional print to the digital age hasn’t been easy. Change isn’t easy for everyone, especially when it comes to changing the way business is done.
Perhaps nobody knows that better than Ron Fournier, the former Washington Bureau Chief who is now the editor-in-chief of the National Journal Group. Fournier is in the process of filling his newsroom with insanely curious people who can report and think on multiple levels — people who can do it all, from sending out an urgent news alert via email, to writing a quick blog post or a 4,500-word piece for the magazine. “We look for people who know that, at the end of the day, our goal is to find new ways of making money with incredibly solid, incredibly good journalism.” —Poynter.com
But the benefits of this new form of business is that professionals who can adapt and change and learn do have the chance to make a living. “Most journalists who want to make a living in this business know they need to know how to do a little bit of everything—graphics, shoot photos, write quick, write long, write deep, and write funny,” Fournier said in his interview with Poynter. “I don’t think it’s hard to find people who want to learn to be more than a one-trick-pony.”
The landscape, as ever, is constantly changing. But that’s what is so great about being a freelancer. Those of us who have already chosen to adapt to this lifestyle are even better equipped to adapt to these changes in digital media. We just have to remember that we can’t take it for granted. We need to constantly keep learning new things, staying on top of the trends, and becoming experts in our fields of expertise.