Life as a Journalist Stuck in a Marketer’s Body

The field of journalism is ever-changing and cutthroat. Not only are there dozens of hurdles spread out in front of aspiring journalists, the nature of today’s newspaper industry makes for an extremely volatile line of work to enter into. It should come as no surprise that many choose to change their career path after getting a taste of the industry. That’s what I did, but deep down I’m still a reporter at heart, always questioning the truth and seeking to tell people’s stories.

shutterstock_95480365How did I get here? (“This is not my beautiful wife!”)

When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2010, I was excited to begin my career as a journalist who actually makes money for her literary genius. I mean, I did my time in college, right?

Just as I thought I was done working for free, opportunity came knocking. One of my internship applications had been saved from a previous semester, and I was offered the position of press intern for my state’s governor’s office.

How could I say no to that?

But at the end of the day, it was a non-paying job that only partially resembled the career I had envisioned for myself.

Reality bites

In short, reality happened. Suddenly the words of everyone who said to me, “don’t major in journalism, it’s a dying field” and “you know you won’t make any money doing that right?” were echoing in my head as bank overdraft notices and skyrocketing credit card bills spread out before me.

I was working for a newspaper, but couldn’t break into the newsroom to save my life. So I hunkered down in advertisingland and tried to find my footing selling obits, legal ads, special occasions and online ad space. I was a hamster in a wheel, and it was terrible.

I decided to make a change when I realized my dream of writing for a newspaper was out of (affordable) reach.

This is a point that a lot of budding journalists come to – a fork in the road, if you will. Some are able to live the dream. They live vibrant, exciting lifestyles and travel the world, telling stories of the valiant and the unjust, exposing the truth wherever they go. Most ask themselves how much they are willing to sacrifice to continue down this path, and they start to look for side trails and back routes.

shutterstock_146269685It surprises me that it took so long to figure out that no, I do not have to work for a newspaper to fulfill my love of writing, and yes, I can find a job that uses my writing skills to pay those bills. It surprises me because I’ve always been one to let life take me on adventures. I like to let things happen, and deal with them later.

The grass is not greener on the other side, but it’s pretty sweet

Before reality hit, I looked at the marketing and PR fields as the slimy underbelly of the journalism world. It represented everything I hated about the news industry. But here I am, working for a content marketing company and enjoying every minute of it.

Maybe I’ve just found the sweet spot. In this new place – the land of content marketing – it’s as if newspapers and ad execs had a baby. A beautiful bouncing, editorial writing, money making baby.

Turns out we’re all witnesses to the marriage of marketing and journalism

The merge of these two disciplines has been a long time coming. When you think about it, the efforts of marketers have been fueling and funding the efforts of journalists and the organizations they work for increasingly over the last few decades. It was only a matter of time before they started to resemble each other.

shutterstock_145569850I’m not saying that journalists are selling out and pushing products, or that marketers are telling the news. They’re not becoming each other, but they are blending together. They complement one another and I’m not mad about it. I drank the Kool-Aid, and it tastes good, people.

Between marketing and journalism, it doesn’t really matter which side you’re on. What matters is how you use your talents. There isn’t a clear line anymore because even content marketers have to write content that people actually want to read, and that’s not much different than news folk. They have to produce stories and write copy that people want to read in order to get them to read it. Not much of a leap from marketing, huh?

About the author

Erin Oftelie