Editor’s note: This story, by three Durango High School students who are on the staff of El Diablo, is the winning work in Wednesday’s 13th annual Four Corners Press Day. About 45 student journalists from five high schools and Miller Middle School wrote about a presentation on careers in communications. Breakout sessions on advertising, writing and sports reporting were led by Durango Herald professionals in the afternoon. In addition to Durango High School were Montezuma-Cortez, Dolores, Farmington and Piedra Vista high schools.
When the Titanic hit the iceberg, they only saw the tip, but what lay underneath the surface of the water was what would make the legend. Like the iceberg, the complex world of journalism has many initially unseen layers. As a journalist, it is important to be a part of each layer.
“You need to do some of all of it. That is the reality of it,” said Leslie Blood.
Evolving journalists can’t simply look at the writing aspect of this career. As the world changes, people have to be able to change with it.
This is easier said than done.
“This will look like a stream,” said University of Colorado internship director Alan Kirkpatrick. “I know where all the rocks are. And you will too.”
Some of the stepping stones to success include not only working in an academic setting, but also possessing real-world experience.
“It is important to do class work, and it’s important to develop your mind that way, but people are going to ask about what you did at the radio station or the newspaper,” said Kirkpatrick.
Internships are one of the best ways for aspiring journalists to shift into their careers. They are a good way to learn about the business of journalism.
“Even if you are just answering phones at a broadcast station, you are still learning about how the business works,” said Kirkpatrick.
It is important for a journalist to gain experience in places such as an internship in a broadcast station, because the world of journalism is no longer solely on paper.
“In order to be competitive in today’s world, a journalist must have multimedia skills,” said Blood. Multimedia skills encompass everything from anchoring a broadcast to producing it. Journalists can no longer be one-dimensional. In the process of learning about the various aspects of journalism, many people can find themselves in an unexpected career.
Kirkpatrick went to school with hordes of aspiring journalists.
“To the best of my knowledge, after 20 years, I was the only one left in journalism,” said Kirkpatrick.
One career that many journalists unexpectedly find themselves in is public relations. A common thread that runs in all journalism-related careers, including public relations, is a need for good writing skills.
“You don’t have to be the strongest writer in the world, but at some point, you will need solid writing skills,” said Kirkpatrick.
Journalism students need to keep their minds open to all sorts of career possibilities.
“They only know what they see,” said Kirkpatrick. “There’s so much more out there.”