Journalism students, I have good news and bad news.
Good news: you’re all talented storytellers with amazing, in-demand publishing skills, especially in digital mediums.
Bad news: your educations have brainwashed you into saying and believing stupid things that have absolutely no truth in the real world.
It’s time you learn the truth before you take that first job. Below are some stupid things you’ve probably said. I’ve said them before. If you say them in the real world, people will laugh at you.
Or you can take your dose of reality now and feel your full potential.
Will you find this list offensive? Probably. Should we talk about that? Definitely.
1. “I don’t care about my salary.”
How admirable of you. Unfortunately, our society runs almost exclusively on money. “Personal conviction” isn’t an acceptable currency you can use to pay rent. Everyone needs money – it pervades everything we do, even journalism. Money buys food, health, time, freedom, education. You will need money, whether you admit it or not. Instead, try saying “I will take a job where I can make enough money to support my chosen lifestyle without violating my personal moral imperatives.” Or just keep couchsurfing and blogging, you douche.
2. “Working for PR is selling your soul.”
Job titles alone do not prescribe moral integrity to individuals. Just as a prison executioner might actually be a nice guy, journalists can be terrible, shitty, lying, totally mentally insane people.
Public relations is often more like brand advocacy: helping journalists and bloggers know about your company, spreading the truth about your organization, or helping customers use your products. The best public relations professionals are completely transparent and genuinely good, much like their companies.
Tylenol, for example. After the tampering of their drugs in the 80s, Tylenol went on an aggressive recall and safety campaign, inventing the modern tamper-proof seal. As you will soon discover, PR jobs outnumber journalism jobs 3-1 and pay to the same ratio. The explosion of branded, native and sponsored content are making a journalist’s skills more demanded in PR than ever. So maybe it’s time you considered that a person’s (or organization’s) ethics are much more complex than titles describe.
Or you can stick to your standard narrative:
Once upon a time, at a dirt crossroads in rural Georgia, Edward Bernays shook hands with a dark, ominous figure…
3. “There aren’t any jobs out there.”
This is complete bull. There are jobs everywhere for people with your skills, you just won’t take them. Let me rephrase your complaint: “Because all I want to do is work in one specific city, and because I don’t look very hard on the internet, and because I spend most of my time watching Netflix and eating in bed, I can’t find a job.” Want a job? Imagine murderers have taken one of your loved ones hostage. Their only demand: you have to get a job in 60 days. What would you do?
4. “Advertising is the dark side.”
Advertising is the lifeblood of good journalism. If you believe otherwise, you have a fundamental misunderstanding of the journalism industry. Good content leads to more readers. More readers leads to more advertisers. More advertisers means more money for your company. More money for you company means better content. Get it? Ignoring your advertising department is like putting an expensive paint job on a car without an engine: you’ll look like an asshole AND you won’t have a ride.
5. “I just want to be a full time freelancer.”
Oh yeah? Go for it, kid. Just be prepared for the worst hours, for zero benefits, for terrible bosses, and no consistent income. So much for that luxurious travel writing lifestyle you expected. Welcome to the real world – time to get a full-time job.