Join 3,424 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

English-language journalism jobs abroad?
February 7, 2011 10:18 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to find English-language journalism jobs in Asia? Or anywhere else?

A friend of mine is spending a few months traveling around Southeast Asia, and in an email the other day, he mentioned that he met and hung around with an America editor at an English-language newspaper in Phnom Penh. Apparently, this guy took the job because he couldn’t find one in the US. And a lot of his writers I guess were young Americans.

As anyone who follows my post history knows, I’m a young journalist frustrated with the demise of the profession, and I’m always on the hunt for more exciting work (I’m currently writing for a terminally ill community newspaper). So now I’m thinking, why not look for a job abroad?

I of course pressed my friend for details. But his Internet access is limited, and I got the impression he only met this guy in passing. So I’m turning to the Green. Anyone out there have any experience with English-language journalism abroad? Is it too naïve to imagine Asia as a refuge for the orphaned professionals of American print media?

Please, help me daydream. Or slap me with some reality. For what it's worth, I do speak French (maybe that could come in handy in Southeast Asia?).
posted by sureshot to Work & Money (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Try the Jakarta Post. It's a high circulation English daily. They tend to shy away from investigative reports unless the target is already on the ropes, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:21 AM on February 7, 2011

You could always move to the country of your choice and work as a stringer to start out. However, it may be tough to land right away in a gig at an English-language daily in a place like Indonesia or Cambodia, as there may be lots of competition for the jobs by expats already in-country.

You could start out teaching English to pay the rent, while building up journo connections in your free time.

The obvious places to do this would seem to be China, the Gulf States (UAE), or one of the expanding economies in South America (Honduras, Nicaragua, Colombia, Bolivia).

You need to look for a place with a growing expat population, combined with a local business class or middle class looking for an English-language view on the world. Audience is key.

I think the challenge any expat-oriented paper has is competing with free content on the Internet. In Japan, all but one of the print English-language papers have ceased publication, as well as several local monthlies.

RJ Koehler, who produces the excellent Korea blog Marmot's Hole, launched Seoul Selection, and was able to quit his day job as a writer/translator for a Seoul newspaper.

In summary, unless you want to thrust yourself into a war zone, or can figure out where the next big crisis in a remote place is going to be, it might make sense to decide on a location where you would like to live for a few years. Find a survival job, and then focus on building up your local career. Also, be entrepreneurial.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:18 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Middle East does pretty well for English-language newspapers and magazines, though a lot of 'em use British English, seem to hire British people. Maybe speaking French could be of use in Lebanon.

I've read and heard a number of times that in general, the labor pools in the Middle East, the Gulf side and otherwise, are big and good enough now that there is relatively little need to import professionals in a lot of fields (and I believe it).

There is an ongoing demand there for teachers and I don't know if it would be possible to get a certificate, get there via that route and work toward a newspaper gig, maybe by doing some freelance work.

As people have suggested, the industry's woes in the USA have led a lot of people to look to other countries.

I have a newspaper background, have worked overseas, saw a couple interesting positions at a newspaper in Vietnam so I sent my info. Several weeks later, I got a no-thanks note and the person related that they were overwhelmed by the number of qualified applicants from the USA. (It read like a real note written by a real person, not a form letter, and I didn't doubt it.)

On the most general level, to the extent that it's possible, already being in the country or region of choice would be a big advantage.
posted by ambient2 at 12:20 PM on February 7, 2011

I had a friend who got quite a bit of fluffy magazine work in Singapore. Lifestyle stuff about wine, for instance, stuff which the local middle classes were interested in. But it wasn't really a living wage.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 1:21 PM on February 7, 2011

Pakistan loves foreign journalists to come and work in its newsrooms, as editors, or as journalists. Some of them, the more network-y sorts, go on to get better jobs as correspondents for their home papers. However the salaries are pitiful (though should be enough to survive on), and most of the foreign journalists are very much at the start of their careers. If you're not the pushy sort, you may be kept in the newsroom correcting other people's copy. On the other hand, they tend to have great adventures. So yes, it's very possible to find work in Pakistan, if you don't mind a dangerous but newsworthy country. As to how to get such a job -- connections, I'm afraid. But if you know anyone from Pakistan, it wouldn't hurt to ask if they know anyone at a Pakistani paper or tv station (many are affiliated with newspapers).
posted by tavegyl at 1:50 AM on February 8, 2011

« Older Please recommend small, pretty...   |  Please help me retain administ... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.