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Saturday, January 23, 2021

Activities & Organizations

Panel provides hope for future of journalism


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Topics at the Houston Chapter of Professional Journalists discussion panel included following personal interests and the importance of networking. The six panelists at the event taught students that good writing skills are marketable in many job fields, not just journalism. Isabella Serimontrikul | The Daily Cougar

The Houston Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists hosted a panel discussion Wednesday about niche reporting, titled “Where the Jobs are in Journalism,” at the School of Theater and Dance.

Niche journalism involves specialization in a separate field while using writing and investigative abilities to report for that field. Occupations utilizing these skills include freelance writing, alternative news sources, such as blogs and podcasts, and company jobs relating to the reporter’s area of specialization.

“When you work as a journalist for a company, you receive the benefits of that company, including holidays,” said Arie Passwaters, web editor at Rice University.

Out of the six guest speakers, three were trained in journalism. Frederick Schiff, a professor of journalism at UH, had no journalistic experience and did not study communications prior to working for the Associated Press.

“Major in your interest, not necessarily journalism,” said panelist Liz Basset, publication coordinator for the Institute for Cancer Care Innovation at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

“The skills needed for reporting are gained mostly through experience, while the inherent ability to write well is not as common as most people think.”

The panelists all agreed that the future of jobs in journalism is heading more toward specialized publications as readers seek local experts that utilize the newer mediums of journalism available through modern technology.

Newspapers, however, are still profitable – especially online editions, which demand the same skills as print editions.

According to Schiff, “newspapers in major cities are seeing profit margins of 13 percent to 19 percent, which is more than most manufacturing companies.”

Communications freshman Kaitlyn Palividas asked panelist Lindsay Peyton for advice on marketing yourself while searching for a job in broadcast journalism.

“Networking is very important; it helps you work your way up,” said Peyton, who owns her own PR firm, Cadence Enterprise.

SPJ presents an opportunity for journalism students to begin networking, and the board is now accepting member nominations for the upcoming new term, which begins Oct. 1.

Students can visit spj.org for more information on becoming a member.

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