By contributor Kelly Whiteside
When I chose to attend university for Creative Writing, my mom warned me I wouldn’t be able to find a well-paying job in my field. Two years into my degree, I decided to focus more on journalism in hopes of finding work easier afterwards.
I assured my mom that the work experience I acquired during university would help me find a good job. The other day, when I called her complaining about the lack of job opportunities in my field in Nanaimo, she said “I told you so.”
Print journalism jobs are diminishing at an alarming rate across Canada. In March, Postmedia laid off 54 employees at the Vancouver Sun and the Province. Many people would take this is a sign that journalism is dying. I disagree. Journalism is simply evolving to be more than just journalism.
In my years at VIU in the Creative Writing and Journalism program, I have learned how to write long and short form poetry, fiction, non-fiction, drama, and a variety of journalistic styles. However, I have also learned a number of other important skills that may seem useless in the writing field but are actually incredibly useful, including editing, digital media, graphic design, website design, photography, videography, marketing, and social media management.
With the evolution of journalism, writers are expected to be more than just writers now. They must hunt for and research stories, conduct interviews, and compose and edit their own articles, often with ridiculous word count expectations. They are required to take photographs and/or record videos for every article. As journalism becomes more prominent on social media, writers are expected to upkeep Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, as well as the news websites with various forms of digital media. Journalists become marketers and SEO content writers, constantly brainstorming new innovative ways to get more readers. Nowadays, most writers are freelancers, and must learn how to run their own business as well. And, depending on where you live, writers are often required to know more than one language, being able to write and translate each one.
So no, mom, I have no regrets about what I chose to study, because I’ve learned more than just how to write. I’ve dipped my toes in a number of different lakes now, absorbing a little bit from each to help make up the water that is 60 percent of my being, and I can go swimming in whichever one suits my fancy.