Will a newspaper job inch me closer to a career in public relations?
November 23, 2009 1:46 PM Subscribe
Job_Offer_Filter: I'm a struggling freelance writer trying to (someday) break into the pr/communications field. I've just been offered a staff writer position at a small local newspaper. Does accepting the job inch me closer to my desired field? Or just burden me with a ton of unmarketable experience?
So, my background:
4 years out of college, doing my best to flex my English/Creative Writing degree. Over the past three years, I've established myself as one of the top arts writers in a large, non-Chicago Midwestern city. I have regular columns in the glossy monthly, aimed at young, hip, and moneyed readers. I am a regular contributor to an alternative weekly, and I fill in for the big daily's art critic when she is sick or on vacation. I also get to do occasional speaking engagements, juried art shows, etc.
Problem is, none of this has evolved into full-time work. I've worked random odd jobs since graduation, some vaguely related to media--wrote audio description scripts for a year, wrote back cover copy for paperback books at a small publisher, picked up random corporate copywriting/speech writing/press release writing projects here and there. I've been unemployed and broke a lot. I'm now working 30 hours per week as a paraprofessional at a local public school, while still doing all my writing stuff on the side.
So now I have an actual job offer:
Staff writer/reporter position at a pair of small, neighborhood newspapers. A small local publisher, hanging on by a thread. The staff seems overworked and underpaid. The job calls for 10,000 words per month, writer pitches/plans all stories (in a very broad range of subject areas), deadlines every two weeks. Some nights and weekends. The pay is low. $30,000 (salaried, which means no overtime pay).
I don't see a future in newspapers. And print publication, though a true love of mine, is not my final career goal. I want to sneak my way over to the other side of the media. And I'm not sure that amassing more print clips is the way to do that. But print journalism is much closer, industry-wise, to pr/communications than teaching, so maybe a year or two at a paper would narrow the gap for a career leap. And perhaps I could learn enough new media skills (video and sound, slide shows) to balance out my increasingly-obsolete print portfolio.
The alternative would be to stick at this part-time school job until summer (when I will be laid off) and devote myself to a long-term, strategic job hunt. Get an on-line portfolio up, maybe start a blog. Network like crazy. By summer, I"d be ready to launch a targeted, nation-wide search. And if the fish aren't biting, I just go back to the school in the fall and keep at it.
So. All of this nattering is to simply ask: Will a newspaper job get me closer to where I want to be? Or is it just another detour?
Any recovering journalists out there starting a new life in PR?