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Life in a Dying Industry



Most Tufts students have an eye on the future, on “what happens” after Tufts (whether or not they want to think about it!) For many communications and media studies students, this means finding a job in the media/journalism/publishing worlds, no small task as many people know. The CMS Program recently held an event for students in just this situation, “How to Land a Media Job: Tips for Seniors” (if you missed it don’t worry, you can check out the audio on the CMS Program homepage – you don’t even have to be a senior to access it!) Many of the speakers emphasized that increasing your own social media presence can be key to getting a job in some of these industries – a great excuse to start blogging on the CMS blog! (You don’t want to be left out in the cold from the digital world like Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson).

Everyone has heard at one point or another the standard cliché that the journalism/publishing worlds are “dying industries” or “dead-end careers.” For example, journalism has been described as the “fastest-dying industry in America.” The struggling publishing industry has been made light of in similar ways.

Barbara Ehrenreich, widely-known journalist, social critic, columnist, essayist and author of 21 books including the famous Nickel and Dimed, described some of the ups and downs of her own experiences in the world of journalism in her piece “Welcome to a Dying Industry, Journalism Grads.” In Ehrenreich’s view, the truth about the journalist’s calling comes down to this:

Journalists “are not part of an elite. We are part of the working class, which is exactly how journalists have seen themselves through most of American history – as working stiffs. We can be underpaid, we can be jerked around, we can be laid off arbitrarily – just like any autoworker or mechanic or hotel housekeeper or flight attendant. But there is this difference: A laid-off autoworker doesn’t go into his or her garage and assemble cars by hand. But we – journalists – we can’t stop doing what we do. As long as there is a story to be told, an injustice to be exposed, a mystery to be solved, we will find a way to do it. A recession won’t stop us. A dying industry won’t stop us. Even poverty won’t stop us because we are all on a mission here. That’s the meaning of your journalism degree. Do not consider it a certificate promising some sort of entitlement. Consider it a license to fight.”

Some, however, don’t see jobs in media/communications as necessitating quite such a degree of personal martyrdom. For some, the benefits of a career pursuing one’s true passion, whether or not it lies in a so-called “dead-end career path,” are obvious: being able to do something you love for the rest of your life. For others, the choice between well-paying work that you you hate vs. poorly/non-paid work that you love is not so black and white: there are ways to find writing/social media jobs that pay, for example opportunities in freelance blogging. A quick Google search turns up instantaneous wikiHow articles on How to Get a Social Media Job in 7 easy steps, or an infographic on How to Get a Job in Social Media in 5 Minutes (the infographic itself is a great demonstration of someone’s social media skills!)

What do you think? Is it possible to find love in a hopeless place? Are there careers out there where it is possible to combine a passion or calling for media/journalism etc. with the ability to make a comfortable living? Let us know!


About Tufts CMS

The Communications & Media Studies Program of Tufts University

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