Career filter: Where do mid-career corporate newswriters go?
October 21, 2008 9:42 PM   Subscribe

I currently work as a “Writer” for a large Colossal News Network. While I enjoy writing enough, the extreme schedules, incessant acute deadlines, and sensational content (“watch this surveillance tape of someone getting beat up!”) are getting to me. I’m not sure how I can parlay my strengths/ experience into a more fulfilling career. (i.e. out of television) Generally speaking, what kind of options do I have that would fit?

more info:
I have kids, so I can’t “start all over” at something and- would like to have health benefits

Some info about me:
Myers Briggs: ENTJ (NJ “moderate/ ET “slight”)
(Frank, decisive, assume leadership, quickly see illogical & inefficient procedures/ policies/ develop & implement comprehensive systems to solve organizational problems. Usually well informed, well read, enjoy expanding knowledge and passing it to others. Forceful in presenting ideas.)

Intellection (IDEAS) gather info, generate theories, stimulate thinking, keep lists, build relationships with “big thinkers”
Achiever – (BUSY) doing what needs to be done now, living in/for the moment, produce results, self starter, “divine restlessness” stamina, discipline
Connectedness – (PEOPLE) open to ideas, look for/ find common ground, people before things, humble enough to look to others for answers, listener
Strategic (ISSUES) spot patterns/ issues/ trends/ problems, long term approach, spot “clues”, predict outcomes, create ways to proceed, issue spotting,
Input (INFORMATION) collect/archive info, map things out, think out loud, read/listen to info, find info, surf internet, open minded
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Basically it sounds like your not getting noticed or you get no gratification from your work. If the job pays well at (CNN), I'll tell you what i tell my coworkers. "Shut up and do your job". Seriously though, I would focus more on the time I spend with my kids rather than the time at work. Hope this gives you a little perspective and thanks for playing.
posted by docmccoy at 10:44 PM on October 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

They go into mid-career press release writing for nonprofits and the like, I'd suspect.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 11:40 PM on October 21, 2008

I would think about going into PR. It's usually less stress, and better pay. It may not exactly be personally fulfilling to do corporate propaganda but it doesn't sound like you're having much fun in journalism either.
posted by Ljubljana at 1:12 AM on October 22, 2008

Seconding PR/Marketing. Someone who can write snappy, attractive copy is always in demand.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:20 AM on October 22, 2008

There are marketing firms that work for nonprofits as well (eg). (On the other hand, nonprofits may be about to get hammered by the economy, so...)
posted by salvia at 8:07 AM on October 22, 2008

I used to work for a small company with a national magazine--not anything near as big as your workplace, but full of deadlines, stress and ad-related irritations. I now work for a (private, liberal arts) college communications department and love it. It's a little PR-y, but there are still lots of opportunities for creative work, everyone is very nice, and the pace is very human-friendly. (Oh, and the vacation time and educational benefits are awesome for those who have kids. Not sure if the pay is comparable though.)
posted by faunafrailty at 9:17 AM on October 22, 2008

Tech writing! My education is in broadcast journalism but I never could break in past entry level. I took an "adult education" course in tech writing and have been doing so ever since.

No, it isn't always exciting, but it's (usually) 9-to-5 and there are a lot of different directions you can go in.
posted by JoanArkham at 11:22 AM on October 22, 2008

Sometimes I fear I'll be you in ten years. Journalist burnout is a sad thing to see, but so understandable in today's media climate. A few thoughts...

- Media training. Teach people how to be 'good talent' when speaking to the media. Potentially fulfilling or soul-draining, depending on whether you're training community spokespeople or business magnates. You could also do this as a volunteer - many good causes are in desperate need of media-confident advocates.

- This would be harder to do with a family, but developing countries often have NGOs which exist to train journalists and foster a vibrant press culture. If you can't pick up and move to Ghana, maybe there's an NGO in your area which trains journalists from minority communities? Again, this may or may not be paid work, but it's a damn good cause.

- Move to radio? Public radio, perhaps? You'd get to use your skills as a broadcast writer but you wouldn't be working to a constant 'we-need-it-5-minutes-ago' deadline.

- You probably know that many journalists think of PR as the 'Dark Side'. Be aware that if you end up doing PR for political or business clients, you'll never be able to go back to covering those subjects as a journalist without a great deal of scrutiny from your peers.

- Retrain as a policy analyst? Skills like gathering information, spotting trends, solving organisational problems are perfect for this career. It could still be soul-destroying but at least you'd be working to deadlines measured in weeks or months.

Good luck!
posted by [ixia] at 1:03 AM on October 23, 2008

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