Thursday, January 17, 2008

Hiring/J-degree: Victoria Advocate

Part of a series in which professionals answer the question that students often ask me: Do you need a journalism degree to get hired in the field?

Many thanks to Becky Cooper, City Editor of the Victoria Advocate, for her answers.

When you hire a reporter, how important is it for an applicant to have a journalism degree?
It is not required, but it is weighed into the equation. We have hired English majors who were much better writers and reporters than some journalism majors.

Why do you look for a journalism degree, or what do you look for instead of that?
Having a degree in journalism tells us the applicant has a background or at least has been exposed to writing in journalism style - features, news, editorials, etc, and has been exposed to open records, media law and the ethics that journalists work from.

We also look at if they have practical experience - i.e. worked on a campus newspaper, took part in an internship, etc.
As the industry moves more to the digital side, we are also looking at applicants who have multimedia experience - audio, video, etc.

Is the picture different for entry-level applicants vs. experienced applicants?
Entry level -we look closely at their college experience, their clips.

An entry-level really has no day-to-day experience in the business unless of course they have worked on the college paper or had an internship. We look closely also at their test stories done during the interview process.
Experienced reporters - we look more so at their work experience, but also weigh their college experience.