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Old 08-04-2008, 08:41 PM
 
35 posts, read 91,306 times
Reputation: 19

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How competitive is it? If I were to believe it as they tell it on Media Bistro, it's dog-eat-dog. I'm thinking of trying to land some freelance there. However, I've been warned not to by very grizzled, jaded media veterans. Meanwhile, the young'uns think it's fantastic...so what's the real deal, from the insiders?
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Old 08-04-2008, 08:44 PM
 
Location: Bay Ridge, NY
1,915 posts, read 7,132,001 times
Reputation: 539
VERY difficult to get into anything involved with writing. The people who do only take it as a part-time job, because the pay is often so low. A lot of people have come around here lately commenting on how they're just unable to find any type of job in this field. If you're interested though, don't let anyone stop you.. you should still try to send in some resumes. Sorry to disappoint you though. =[
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Old 08-04-2008, 09:48 PM
 
Location: Queens
536 posts, read 2,092,723 times
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Anyone know if that new CUNY grad school of journalism has good job placement in NYC? I was thinking about going there after I finish college, but that would mean a few more years of full-time work and part-time school, I might be nearly 30 by then haha.
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Old 08-05-2008, 03:11 AM
 
Location: Brooklyn
40,057 posts, read 29,731,202 times
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I worked in book publishing for about a decade. Yes, it's exceptionally competitive. But freelancing might be a good way to get in there. And lately there's an organization called the Freelancers Union that may be able to provide some help with peripheral matters.
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Old 08-05-2008, 07:33 AM
 
Location: No Sleep Til Brooklyn
1,413 posts, read 4,675,455 times
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It's basic supply and demand. Thousands of writers bring down prices for pieces. Write, if you love it, but expect to have to jungle several jobs to make it work.
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Old 08-05-2008, 09:49 AM
 
90 posts, read 379,845 times
Reputation: 62
It just depends. I'm on staff of a relatively big magazine that's part of a major magazine company, and my pay isn't amazing, but it's fine. I can live in Manhattan and still put 10% to my 401k, save for vacations, etc. I'm in my mid-20s, but this wasn't my first job. I had to work for a newspaper in the Southeast for a year and a half before coming here.

Some people do get hired at magazines here right out of school, though often they interned for them while they were still in college.

As far as your specific question goes (freelancing), most of our freelancers are actually former staffers who semi-retired or took a buyout and then turned around to continue writing. The pay at major magazines is generally 75 cents to $1.50 a word. Small publications and newspapers will pay more like .25 cents a word, or, worse, by the item...maybe $50 for a 200 to 500 word item.

Your major difficulty as a freelancer will be the cost of healthcare. It's easily several hundred dollars a month to buy from a private insurer. You can go without, but a major accident or health problem will almost certainly bankrupt you (and then your parents, if they'd help). To me, getting healthcare (and thus being on staff) was an absolute necessity, because I knew it wasn't just my money at risk.

I wouldn't recommend going to a journalism school unless you have no clips to show magazines that you can write or if you're changing careers or something like that. The clips and actual experience will get you hired, not a degree. I have little experience with CUNY's career services, but I know several people who graduated from Columbia, and they were nearly on their own. Sometimes alumni networks are a good way to break the ice and at least get in the office of someone in a hiring position or in a position to buy your stuff. Schools with programs that send a lot of people into journalism ARE good for that.

As far as the media veterans go...journalism in general offers competitive salaries right out of school that get less and less appealing as you get older. You might start in the mid-$30s (if you're at a really small place, maybe the high $20s). That's low, but in the first few years, you'll likely switch to better publications or get promoted two or three times, bringing you to the $60s. That's livable, and not that far removed from what you might make in something like PR (probably the mid-$70s to low-$80s for someone at a top PR firm with 2 to 3 years experience). The problem begins there. You either keep writing and only get modest promotions or salary increases of MAYBE 2.5% a year, or you become an editor and eventually make it to the $90s or low $100s at a major magazine. Even top editors don't make much more than that unless you're at the biggest publications. I think media veteran malaise comes from hitting that kind of a ceiling so early in a career. However, the best magazine and newspaper writers can make six figures. We're talking people who break major news and publish books on the side though.

Good luck, and hope that helps some.
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