Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Working journalists share their tips in finding jobs in the media fields

Panel discussed essential skills, networking and things to avoid

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Abigail Charpentier, Assistant News Editor

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The Online News Association of Western New England hosted a panel Wednesday night, where New England-based journalists discussed finding work in media job markets and offered their tips to a small crowd of 10 people.

The panel was organized by journalism senior Stephanie Murray and Kat Friedrich of ONA Western New England. Included on the panel were Kit Maher, social media specialist at MassLive, Aviva Luttrell, a multimedia reporter at MassLive, Kim Krieger, a research writer at the University of Connecticut, and Lara Salahi, an assistant professor of broadcast and digital journalism at Endicott College.

ONA Western New England was established in 2016 to connect young journalists to opportunities in the metro areas on the eastern seaboard, including Boston and New York City.

Friedrich, who moderated the panel, opened by asking what skills employers are looking for. Salahi started by saying students have the advantage of being digital natives; they can use social media and keep up with the fast pace. She said that people who are tenacious and persistent, and have the ability to learn, do well in the field.

“The folks who have retained, who have stayed for periods of time in a specific newsroom, are those who have a good rapport with their coworkers,” Salahi said.

Krieger, coming from an academic perspective, said she looks for people who have experience, people who have had five or more years in a newsroom or in advertising. She said that they also look for people who work well in a team.

“The few people who don’t really fit in and don’t like it are the people who generally want more recognition than you get in academia,” Krieger said. “As a staff member, you can be appreciated, but it’s the professors who are the stars…as a PR person or an advertising person, you don’t get your byline out there, even if you write the most amazing news stories for the magazine.”

Luttrell, as a multimedia journalist and UMass journalism alum, said it was important to be a “jack of all trades.” She explained how it is important to be able to take photos, write clean and concise copy and have great interviewing skills.

Maher thought people should be able to admit their mistakes and take constructive criticism, especially as a new professional in the field. She also encouraged “being hungry” and asking to take on new projects, even if it’s not in your initial job description.

“Use your youth as an asset,” she said.

Networking and building connections were other topics panelists covered. Most panelists agreed it was important to follow up with people you meet and maintain those relationships. Several of the panelists also agreed industry networking events can be helpful. Salahi shared a story about how she landed a job after talking to a news director in a shared cab ride after a networking event in New Orleans.

“The sessions are worth it if you work it,” Salahi said, adding that it is important to network on the outskirts of the events as well.

Panelists also talked about skills that are not attractive to employers. Krieger said it is embarrassing for everyone involved in an interview when the interviewee is unprepared. Luttrell commented that confidence is good, but arrogance is bad.

Maher suggested that “you should never say off the bat that you wouldn’t do something or an assignment you wouldn’t volunteer for because then it automatically puts you out of the running for that type of story.”

“Make sure you’re showing that you’re going to show up, and you’re willing to go outside of your comfort zone,” she said.

Abigail Charpentier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abigailcharp.

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