A well-respected retired Chicago journalist spoke to my journalism graduate class the other night. His passion in reporting and researching important stories for his readers was hard to miss. From the start of his discussion, it was clear his biggest priority throughout his career was to give his listeners/readers the information they needed – not necessarily wanted. Though he has been retired for at least eight years, his drive for good journalism is as present today as if he was still on the beat.
One statement he made in class really struck me, “Make your goal during your career to leave it better than you found it.” He said this was his goal from his first day on the job to his last. Reporting today is faced with many pressures – financially and ethically. So it’s important to remember his call to action. However, as the saying goes, sometimes things are easier said than done, which is definitely true in this case. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our hardest to provide the best reporting and editorial for our readers.
Are you staying on top of trends in the industry you cover? And are you staying on top of trends in the journalism/editor industry? Knowing what is coming ahead and putting that information in front of your readers is job one. Understanding how to put the information in front of them is job two. It falls on us to take initiative to attend industry trade shows and seminars and network with professionals. All of these opportunities cost money, though, and during a turbulent time, those are often the tools that get cut. So to make sure we are still doing our best job possible, think about trading off trade shows among your colleagues and then having a meeting to discuss what they learned. Teamwork is the key to succeeding any time during a career – but especially when our resources are limited.
If you feel a little beat down with all the bad news and intense pressures, remind yourself that your number-one goal is “to make the industry better.” Rely on your colleagues and associations to help you find the passion to make this happen.
Maureen Alley is managing editor for Website Magazine, a trade publication dedicated to Web professionals. She was formerly managing editor for Residential Design & Build magazine, a property of Cygnus Business Media. Alley graduated with a BA from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and is currently attending Roosevelt University in Chicago for her Masters of Science in Journalism. She has been a member of ASBPE since 2006 and was a judge for the 2009 Azbee Awards program. She writes a blog at www.maureenalley.com about young journalists and new media. Contact her at malley13[at]gmail[dot]com.