Tuesday, 23 July 2013
(66): Why you should be a journalist? IV
Corporate communications is another growing sector in the world of media and communications. Companies, government agencies, financial institutions etc., are interested in having a favourable image among their publics. They also like to engage their staff on their internal communication strategy so that the employees can easily help the institution to achieve its corporate objective.
This is one area in which you can decide to build your own career. Having said that, it is also an area where experience is valued. Depending on the organization, having an experience in journalism and membership of professional bodies such as the Institute for Public Relations, Chartered Institute of Public Relations, Nigeria Institute of Public Relations etc, will be an added advantage.
As I discussed earlier in this series, ability to write, understanding of international languages and the use of social media will be an added advantage. This is so because at the moment CEO’s are interested in attracting young talents, and having a positive image among this category of media users. Sometimes the Chief Executives organize questions and answer sessions on twitter so that they interact with people, gauge the image of the organization before the public, and promote its standing nationally and internationally.
Freelancing is another aspect of journalism and communication which you can use to develop a career, although sometimes it can be risky because you do not have a regular income. However it has one unique advantage, being independent and self-employed. Freelance journalists are normally contracted by media organisations as a supplement to their permanent staff. But before making a decision to embark on freelance journalism you need to look at the advantages and disadvantages. First of all as a freelance journalist you have the freedom to decide when to work and when to rest.
Secondly, you can take your time to conduct rigorous research and develop a story which the journalist who is permanently employed may not have the luxury to enjoy, due the pressure of deadlines which is common in news rooms. Thirdly, if you build an excellent reputation as a freelance journalist, you might be lucky to have different media organisations being interested in your services, this could help in getting more regular income, and you will also be in a position to negotiate the offers you received. When you decide to take full time employment, being a freelance journalist sometimes makes it easier since your work might have featured in different media organisations.
On the other hand, there is a lot of uncertainty in freelance journalism. I was once freelancing for a media organisation, and sometimes you can spend a week or more without a single story taken from you. For those who use freelancing as a means of earning a livelihood that could be challenging. There is also the risk of a person getting into trouble spots which could put his life in danger because he is looking for stories that will appeal to his clients. Finally you risk working without developing a career. So you need to weigh your options and decide what you think is best for you. For students, and journalists on temporary employment, freelance journalism could be an opportunity to supplement their income and gather more experience. It is also good for those on retirement who would like to avoid the daily pressure from editors.
Citizen journalism is another area which you can use to develop yourself as a journalist. Although there is debate on whether citizen journalism should be considered as true journalism, I believe citizen journalism has some advantages because of the influence of social media like facebook and twitter which provide ample opportunity for alternative news. There are so many free platforms for you to start practicing, which you can also use as evidence of output when you attend interviews.
Google and Wordpress for examples have free platforms for you to write stories, publish articles, develop picture galleries etc. Never underestimate the power of blogging, as discussed by Eric Schmidt of Google during a lecture to some university students, there are more people earning their livelihood using blogging than the total number of lawyers in the United States. The very area you live today could be the centre of news tomorrow, and if you are already blogging, your stories could lead the way before media organisations arrive at the venue.
A much bigger advantage of citizen journalism is that you can publish your ideas without unnecessary censorship from editors who would like to make sure that news items conform to the corporate interest of the media organization they work for. Understand that through journalism you can make a lot of difference to the lives of the people locally, nationally and internationally. Why not grab that opportunity now?