When Journalists Turn the Page


From public relations to content marketing, communication is essential to a successful business. Soft skills are highly valued in the marketplace. Journalists appear to have them in volume. Is a journalist your next hiring target?

Professional reporters and editors move from project to project, sometimes in a matter of hours. The nature of their industry breeds collaboration with public officials, sources, colleagues and the general public.

In the current climate of shortened newsroom staffs, journalists are asked to do more, requiring diverse skill sets. Rare is the reporter allowed to focus on a single topic such as medical news or school coverage, as was routine in past decades.

“Successful journalists are highly organized professionals, having to keep track of large volumes of information as they craft and hone their stories,” said David Utorka, Director of Recruiting and Training at MultiView Inc. “Along with physical organization of materials, sources and facts, they are also organized ‘thinkers’.”

You want someone who can connect with clients and sales prospects? That sounds like a person who easily moves from interviewing neighborhood gardeners showing off their craft to talking with government officials about complicated municipal issues.

When LinkedIn Economist Guy Berger spelled out his Top 10 Most Sought After Skills, he might as well have written a resume for journalists. Berger’s attributes echo Utorka’s comments: good communicator, well organized, team player, critical thinker, social, creative thinker, interpersonal communicator, easily adapts.

Journalists, particularly those at traditional print properties, have adapted to the new incarnation of their industry in the past two decades. As social media boomed, they became on-the-spot reporters through avenues such as Twitter and Instagram. With the recent drive for video, those who considered themselves writers have moved in front of the camera with regularity.

The drive to seek answers matters. “What separates a ‘worker’ from an ‘entrepreneur’?” Utorka asked. “Curiosity, every time.”

Another thing journalists offer is availability. When the economy sank during the Great Recession, reporters, editors and photojournalists flooded the field of job-seekers. Since 2001, employment in newspapers was cut by more than half, from 412,000 early in 2001 to 174,000 in 2016, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The list of former journalists who excelled in other ventures could start with Benjamin Franklin, who was a publisher along with more notable and historic achievements. Winston Churchill, Great Britain’s revered prime minister from 1940-45 and 1951-55, served as a war correspondent. More recently, Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and John McCain’s running mate in his 2008 presidential run, previously earned a degree in journalism and was a TV sports reporter.

Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital was once a writer for TIME magazine. Steven Rattner of Willett Advisors LLC and the man who headed the Obama administration’s restructure of the automotive industry, is a former New York Times correspondent. They prove the value of journalists in business.

“Sales is all about the close! You can identify and assess needs, align your product or service as a solution to uncovered pain points, goals or challenges, and build great rapport to entice a prospect. But if you can’t close – which is in itself a deadline – then you will never be successful,” Utorka said. “Journalists are all about ‘getting the story to press’ and so they are adequately prepared to handle pressure and respond accordingly. It’s a skill set that is highly transferable to the world of sales.”

As for value beyond the newsroom, Utorka spells it out.

“Journalists are good oral communicators,” he said. “They understand the value of asking questions and apply active listening in their profession on a daily basis. All of these skill sets are commodities in considerable demand, both within the field of journalism, as well as in many other professions.”

MultiView might be the next career step for journalists and non-journalists alike. Check out our Job Opportunities!

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