Can I feasibly switch to journalism without having to go back to school? And how can I do that?

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Every working journalist is begging you to reconsider. On the other hand, nothing is preventing you from pitching. I write essays and features in my spare time, and I never went to j school or worked in media. Start writing on Medium or your personal blog, then use those “clips” when pitching ideas to editors. It’s hard work, but bylines beget bylines. Eventually you could be placing enough stories to do it full time. More likely, it’ll just become another creative outlet. But either way, you don’t need to make a major lifestyle change to pursue it.

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My sister is a journalist. The industry is so hard with so little money and almost no jobs. Much tougher than advertising.

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As a former journalist I highly recommend against it lol

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Ditto

Dude. I started as a journalist. It’s so hard. I recommend staying away.

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Former journalist echoing what others have said - it’s HARD work to make a living out of these days. There are so many freelancers writing for publications for pennies that a lot of places barely offer anything for a piece anymore. Every single staff writer I know barely made enough to get by (even at places like Vice) until they ultimately got canned because, again, they can get cheaper work from freelancers. It’s constant, constant hustling. I personally grew to really resent it. If you love writing, do it for you.

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Worked as a columnist/beat reporter 6 years ago before leaving for advertising. I make 5x what I did back then. So not worth the money stress

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People I know had to start with writing obituaries after getting their journalism degree.

You can pitch editors right now with story ideas, you just usually need a few clips first which you can write on a Medium type blog. As someone who did journalism for a year though (at a big network subsidiary), a lot of the entry level jobs are soul sucking. I was writing 3-4 articles a day, often on content I couldn’t possibly research well in the time I had to write a compelling story. It paid ~55k, terrible benefits.

I’d do freelance writing first to make sure you love it, and would recommend breaking into the TV side of journalism if you proceed.

It depends on what type of journalism you want to do. I went to J School and found a lot of value in the classes that taught us proper reporting techniques and how to spot bias in our own work. Our program walked us through the basics of reporting across all mediums, history of journalism and advertising, communication law and cross-cultural reporting. I definitely feel like if you want to be a fair and balanced reporter, J School will give you the tools to understand how to properly do so without adding another problematic reporter to the current media climate. I feel like a lot of the more problematic people in the industry are the ones who were never formally trained in proper reporting and storytelling techniques. Though I completely understand how a formal education like this acts as gatekeeping for those who can’t afford to go this route.

Another thing to note, as people have said above, the pay is absolute shit and it’s a completely thankless job. The current administration has completely bastardized the true meaning of “Fake News” and this phrase is confidently hurled at the most esteemed and revered journalists who are truly making a difference in the world by the most uneducated and uninformed people of our generation.

I definitely think the industry will change at some point, but not without a passionate sea of individuals that truly care about the survival of a necessary profession in this world. If you’re up for the challenge and understand all the barriers to entry, I say go for it. We need more passionate people who want to be proper journalists and help shape a critical moment in this industry. Most programs offer online courses or certificate programs that might be a cheaper route if you’re looking to get the proper training/background.

Don’t. I planned to do traditional journalism and thankfully landed the plane in another field. Had a friend who covered 10+ high schools and a college and made $18,000 a year. Any sense of pride is not worth living under the poverty line.

Don’t do it. I went to journalism school, and in the 20 years since graduating have never landed a ft journalism job. I’m an accomplished freelancer (Vanity Fair, VICE) but more often than not CDs view it as a negative and expect me to explain it, like how you’d explain an employment gap or being fired. There’s zero respect for journalism in advertising, and vice versa.

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