10 Reasons Every Company Should Hire a Former Journalist

What’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to non-news-media companies, you ask? Newspaper layoffs, that’s what.

A bunch of awesomely talented people are looking for jobs, and they’re people every business needs. (My journo-honesty conscience is nagging me to throw a bias alert in here now – so, btw, I’m biased, but that’s the point of having a blog anyway.) Which brings me to the beginning of the list!

1. Ethical

Newspaper people are an ethical bunch. We know not to accept gifts – unless it’s leftover food from the day shift. Also under the ethical umbrella is honesty. Our career is based on the truth, and that’s why we chose journalism to begin with. And we all know that the truth is the best defense.

2. Writing skills

I didn’t realize how valuable my writing and editing skills are until I was out of the news business. That’s the main reason I was hired in marketing; my company needed someone with writing and editing abilities. In order to be seen by customers, every business needs a writer because right now it’s all about great content. People don’t need to sit through ads anymore – they seek out the content they want to read. Companies have to adjust by hiring writers to create content their customers will seek out.

3. Communication skills

Companies have trouble with communication. Reporters especially know how to communicate tactfully, and can get people to open up. Interview skills are invaluable, especially when dealing with clients or hosting increasingly popular (and also invaluable) website usability tests.

4. Hard workers

Editors and reporters do what it takes to get the paper out. They cover late-night fires, early morning meetings, late-night meetings, ten local football games in one Friday night, let’s not forget elections – and everything else that happens in the coverage area. It’s crazy.

5. Connections

If your company is fortunate enough to snag a locally laid-off reporter, you get the benefit of an employee with pre-intstalled, impressive connections; police chiefs, media influencers, government officials and more. Tread lightly in asking favors though – revisit number 1 if that confuses you.

6. Deadline-driven

You see this in every job ad out there. Every employer wants a deadline-driven employee. Well, it doesn’t get more deadline-driven than a daily newspaper professional. We’re serious about deadlines. The paper has to print – and you do not want to be the person who costs the company thousands of dollars because it went late. There are rare exceptions though (see number 4).

7. Fast learners

Reporters and editors have to learn a subject pretty fast if they’re going to write and edit a story about it. Also, the changing job scene requires reporters to learn social media marketing, editors to learn page design, etc. They learn these things on the job – with a daily deadline to meet.

8. Humor

A newsroom is the funniest place in the world. Often, it has to be funny or we wouldn’t be able to handle the daily tragedies that cross the desk. You don’t have to worry about offending someone who used to work in a newsroom.

9. Detail-oriented

I got so sick of seeing this requirement in job descriptions. This must’ve been the most popular item to list as a job requirement: detail-oriented. Editors are the most obnoxiously detail-oriented people you will ever meet. They know when you’ve misplaced a comma, and won’t hesitate to fix it. It’s not just the grammar and spelling of things, either. They are fact-checkers. Editors have to make sure the newspaper won’t be sued because the word “allegedly” or the phrase “on charges of” was left out. Not to mention the inevitable “pubic” instead of “public” or when a reporter just tries to slip something obscene through just for the fun of it. We’re detail-obsessed – it’s a borderline disorder.

10. Grateful

I probably shouldn’t say this for job-bargaining purposes, but former journalists are the most grateful employees you can have. We’re used to the worst conditions – low pay, understaffed, overworked, furloughs. We feel like we’ve hit the jackpot when we work a straight eight-hour day (during the day!), we get more money, a fair amount of work, and even a bonus! I’ve been a working professional for eight years and didn’t get a bonus until I snagged a marketing gig. I was just relieved at not having to take weeks off without pay! And, I can take vacations whenever I want! I don’t have to schedule them around when other people will be in the office. And I’ve witnessed a Christmas miracle – in that I don’t have to work on Christmas! I get ALL HOLIDAYS OFF!

So, that’s why every company should hire a former journalist. There are a lot more reasons, actually, but I had to keep it at a neat number like 10.

I’d love to see other reasons though, so list ’em below!

Tracy McCarthy is the founder of Content Newsroom, a website dedicated to helping you get more customers through the quality content that your website visitors deserve and Google demands. A journalist turned Internet marketer, Tracy uses her writing and editing skills to help B2B and B2C businesses succeed with content marketing. She has done work for Content Marketing Institute, SuccessWorks SEO Copywriting, Brookstone and more, and has contributed to Kapost, ISOOSI and other industry-leading blogs.

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4 thoughts on “10 Reasons Every Company Should Hire a Former Journalist

  1. Great blog post, Tracy!

    I’d add another, and maybe this coincides with your “Communication Skills” point, but still: Polite. Most people who are journalists (or former journalists) have a sense of the audience they’re writing for, and so adjust their writing for maximum understanding. Aside from that, journalists know better than most how words can be misinterpreted so there’s a lot less ego involved with their email/report writing and a lot more general diplomacy.

  2. Thanks Tony! You’re definitely right about the politeness of journalists and their ability to tailor their communication style to the audience. We’re also hyper-aware of the need for clarity in communications like email and reports that others often muddle, so I’m glad you brought that up! Great input!

  3. How about General Knowledge…one of the rarest qualities in young writers today.
    I took to earning a crust writing for a marketing/PR agency when my journalism job vaporized many years back.
    My boss thought he could save hiring more writers by doing some of the writing himself – after all, how hard can it be when there are only 26 of them! But had to be told, in a case study brochure for a German-based client, that he might want to reconsider using the phrase ‘the final solution.’

    • Ha! Excellent point, Chris. Journalists have to know a lot about a lot of things that people in other fields don’t in order to accurately report and edit the news. Your “The Final Solution” anecdote is a perfect example!

      At one of my marketing jobs, I edited my boss’ blog post that stated “Happy Memorial Day” from our company. Sure, a lot of people use the long weekend to party with friends and family, but it’s a U.S. day of mourning.

      Thanks for the contribution!