How to (Voluntarily) Become an Ex-Journalist

Disclaimer: Please note that I wrote most of the posts in this section back around 2007 and haven’t done any updates since 2010. Given how quickly the field of communication changes, I’m sure at least some of the things here are no longer applicable.

With all the turmoil that has hit the newspaper industry and the uncertainty still to come, it’s little wonder that many journalists are considering a career change. On this page, I am posting a collection of my blog posts that offer advice on how to go about getting out of the newspaper industry mid-career. I hope this can be of some help to those who are looking to take the path I have traveled.

If you have any questions about certain aspects of getting out of newspapers mid-career, feel free to e-mail me and I will try to share whatever insight I have. I would also welcome any advice and resources you have to share on this subject.


Other resources to help you become an ex-journalist

Some job boards


In case you were wondering …

Why are you doing this?

Because I’ve seen, in online discussions, journalists who are considering getting out of the industry but don’t know how to go about it or where they can jump to. Having made the jump myself, I felt like I had something of value to share when it comes to how to land a non-newspaper job using newspaper skills.

What makes you qualified to give such advice?

Nothing, except my own experience getting out of the industry. I got out in 2006 and have embarked on a couple more job searches since then (one voluntary, the other not). So I have a good deal of recent experience in looking for jobs where I can still utilize many of the skills I used in journalism.

Do these tips work?

All I can say is that they worked for me. Obviously everyone’s situation is a bit different, and I’ll be the first to admit that I was fortunate in some ways, especially being still relatively young (27) when I got out of newspapers and thus not having to take a real step down in the career ladder. Nonetheless, I think there are things to be learned from the experiences I had that can be applied to more general situations.

Do you hate journalism? Why are you trying to talk journalists into leaving?

My offering this advice doesn’t mean I don’t love journalism. I do. I firmly believe journalism has a future, perhaps a bright one. However, I’m not so sure about newspapers. What I do know for certain is that it’s a rocky time to be in the industry. I’m not about to ask anyone to sacrifice the next decade of their life trying to save an industry that won’t hesitate to kick them out the door. I’ve seen a lot of talk about saving the industry, but not much about saving the people in it. This guide tries to help those people save themselves, if they so desire, because they deserve better.

16 thoughts on “How to (Voluntarily) Become an Ex-Journalist”

  1. hi — i didn’t see an e-mail link and wanted to let you know that i’ve passed a link to your site along to a guild officer as part of our preparation for up to 95 layoffs at the indy star (unknown number in our unit, which also includes building services personnel).

    as i’ve said for several years, “i’m so glad i’m old.” greed wrecked this industry as surely as it wrecked banking/finance. i “volunteered” for the layoff, because i’m old enough and financially ok enough to retire, though i’ll probably pick up seasonal jobs like grading the state graduation test, as my neighbor does. but i’m glad someone has put together info to help those who thought they were getting into careers, not just jobs.

    best wishes

    ellen

  2. Thanks so much for this series, and for your clear, informative approach to a scary topic. I found all four parts of your piece very useful!

  3. Hi, I just want to say this was enormously helpful to me. Next week is my last at a major news organization and I start with a global PR firm next month. It wasn't an easy decision. Sometimes the toughest part is losing that identity. But it's nice to know others are making the same kinds of decisions. I'll always be grateful for the opportunity and work that I did as a journalist. But after moving cross country on my own dime several times, and being put off at attempts to transfer back to my home state, I realized my life was about more than just my job/career (however wonderful it is/was). I'm looking forward to living near my family, having real weekends and evenings and finding out who else I am (besides a journalist). On top of that, the work I'm going to be doing is something new and exciting that I think I will excel in.

  4. Thank you for your great information. But it's nice to know others are making the same kinds of decisions. I'll always be grateful for the opportunity and work that I did as a journalist. But after moving cross country on my own dime several times

  5. As is so comment, this site has plenty of material, but it falls far short of telling how you can actually get a job. Of course, that may just reflect the reality that journalists are unemployable in the 21st century.

    1. Your post smacks a bit of trolling, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and reply as if you aren't: I'm not sure what more a job-seeker-advice site can do to help someone who's looking for a job, short of actually writing their applications for them. Heck, in fact, I've even been contacted by some people who've read some of these posts and asked me if I would be willing to look at their resume and offer any suggestions, and I've agreed to every one of those requests, asking for nothing in return just because it feels good to try to help someone.

      As for the "journalists are unemployable" comment, I firmly disagree with that. I think journalists have a lot of desirable skills that transfer well into other communication professions. The key is identifying those skills and finding jobs where they can put those to use. Of course, finding jobs, for anybody, the past few years has been tough.

  6. I'm not a journalist, but really to be honest the things people post in the newspaper gives my inspiration to be a journalist I want to give advice to people all around the world and see what I can do to help them out as best as I can. I know I'm still young and only 14 but I am positive when in grow up I want to be a journalist who gives out advice! Even if they don't pay me or not I still want to help people.

  7. I was a journalist at a few years ago and through this helpful article, i will analyze what will i plan and do next in order have at least a same qualified job for myself in the future 🙂

  8. I used to be a journalist. I love writing then but I was not happy with my job. That's why I changed my career and I shifted to photography. Well, I can still use my journalistic skills here but I need to be more engaged with pictures rather than in photos.

  9. Dear John
    Thank you for your blog. It is wonderful to learn it is not only me who feel this way.
    Bu I have been doing what you have been mentioning in your blog for years now but I seem to be stuck and just going around in circles despite international experience, postgraduate qualifications and very creative appoaches to identifying new career opportunities. Why is this????

    A career in broadcasting journalism and a Masters degree in communications seems not to be taken seriously in any other part of the economy for some reason, despite me explaining how my skills will add value to companies or NGO's My speciality is audiovisual media and I want to go more into internet video or TV and although I have experience in basically any beat you can think of the last few years of my career I worked more with science and agricultural related topics.

    Lately, I was considering looking into corporate intelligence or training and if possibly making use of my talent to gather large volumes of seemingly unrelated info, identifing relationships and trends and then communicate it in a clearly to understand manner using various mediums.

    Any advise please???? I am South African and currently based in South Africa.

    Marize de Klerk

  10. Thank you for your great information. But it's nice to know others are making the same kinds of decisions. I'll always be grateful for the opportunity and work that I did as a journalist.

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