How To Succeed in a JMC Profession Without Trying: Secrets to Success

Journalism, media and communication (JMC) is always evolving. From the birth of the printing press, to the creation of the Internet, the profession has evolved with the technological changes. As a result, the factors to have a successful career in journalism, media and communication also evolve at a rapid rate. What was successful in the mid 20th century may not correlate to what is considered to be factors leading to a successful career in JMC. However, there are three key qualities that remained constant, despite the rapid evolution of the JMC field, to have a successful career. Passion, innovation and adaptation.

In order to have a successful career in Journalism, Media and Communication, let alone in any industry or field, one of the greatest secrets to success is doing work that you are passionate about. Passion is defined by many as, “a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something, or about doing something” (Abraham, 2013). Being passionate about the work you do is extremely beneficial for a number of reasons. Passion has the ability to drive many personal qualities which will assist in overall career development. Some of these qualities include motivation, pride, and self-fulfilment (Abraham, 2013).

The first quality derived from passion, is motivation. In a work sense – motivation is an underlying reason to better yourself or reach a particular goal. Research shows that people who are motivated consistently produce work to a higher standard (Yahui & Jian, 2015). Not only this, but motivated professionals also tend to more efficiently utilise the resources available to them (Yahui & Jian, 2015). This trait is particularly important in a JMC career as there will be times where the writer will need gather information in a timely manner, and use the information to efficiently produce an article or story whilst the information is still trending. Consistent, high quality work, delivered in a timely manner – is imperative to not only capture, but maintain an attentive and loyal audience (Van Der Wurff & Schonbach, 2014).

Pride is another quality driven by passion. Having pride in your work means that you are proud, and will stand by your opinions – even when confronted with criticisms and debate (Brox, 2013). Through obtaining these traits, the media professional will not be subject to persuasion of generic, mainstream opinions and ideas. This has the potential to drive diversity, and not only target, but develop a niche market, and will likely increase the attention of the public audience (Brox, 2013).

Self fulfillment is another benefit of being passionate about your work (Dik & Hansen, 2008). Self-fulfillment is a feeling obtained when an individual is truly satisfied in doing something. Self fulfillment drives happiness, and a positive mindset – which can help overcome obstacles and drive continuous improvement in not only the Media Professional’s career, but also their life outside of work (Abraham, 2013). Journalist Stephen Dubner is a JMC professional who established his radio station (Freakonomics) dedicated to trending political issues, whist applying these issues to his passion – economics. Through implementing his creative ideas of which he is passionate about, he is able to target and capture an entire niche market reaching an audience of up to 200,000 listeners every month (Freakonomics, 2016). In order to be successful in the Journalism, Media and Communication industry, there are many other keys that one must grasp, the next key to success is innovation.

Innovation is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (2016) as “the act or process of introducing new ideas, devices, or methods”. The two types of innovation, as defined by Francis and Bessant (2005), are product innovation and process innovation.

Regardless if one has a job in journalism, media and communications – or in any other field – innovation will affect one’s working life. According to Tanja and Krumsvik, the very definition of innovation has multiple meanings. However in the majority of cases, innovation is about change. Francis and Bessant (2005) define four types of innovation: product, process, position and paradigmatic innovation. Product innovation can be regarded as the changes in the ways in which products/services are created and delivered (Francis & Bessant, 2005). For example, the iPhone and iPad are examples of evolutionary product innovation. These devices significantly altered media consumption. The iPhone transformed how people communicated by seamlessly linking the internet, apps and multimedia on a phone. When the iPad was released, it during a time where eBooks were becoming more popular because of devices like the Kindle and the Nook. As a result, media like newspapers and magazines also took advantage of this trend. These devices were regarded as a new media platform that could facilitate the innovation of new genres, new business models and a new distribution channel that could enable the reinvention of established genres and business modules (Krumsvik & Tanja, 2012). Leo Laporte is a media personality that has taken advantage of product innovation. He has long been associated with technology journalism – a field which has a rich link with product innovation. In 2005, the technology behind podcasting was being developed – audio files being sent by RSS feed that is updated when a new file is available. Leo Laporte, after leaving the US technology-oriented cable television channel TechTV, started a new media company called This Week in Tech (Milian, 2010). The name came from his original podcast started the same year. From that one podcast, Laporte now runs a digital multimedia empire. The TWiT Network has up to 24 podcasts covering a variety of topics – from food, law, science and video games (Milian, 2010). He was also one of the first people to use Twitter, and champions new technology by using the very devices that change media consumption habits into his programming (Milian, 2010). In a New York Times interview, Leo stated that he didn’t want to be an exact replica of traditional media (Kalish, 2010). As a result of Laporte’s own innovations in making podcasting profitable, the TWiT Network was earning around $5 million dollars a year (Kalish, 2010). In addition, his audience is not limited to just the United States, unlike his endeavours in traditional media (Kalish, 2010). Laporte saw a market through a relatively new product innovation called podcasting, and he was able to create an audience. It can be said that this audience is going to these new platforms, and JMC professionals must be adept in using and understanding the equipment.

Leo Laporte being interviewed on TWiT Show, Triangulation. (This Week in Tech, 2013)

Innovation has various kinds. Especially, the process innovative influences to the individual successful career. Process innovation means the implementation of a new or significantly improved production or delivery method (Vernardakis, 2016). When this process innovation is connecting with the mass communication, it refers to a change in the media delivery system. Changing the information delivery method to the public affects to the society and journalism. At present, the media creates new media continually. It sometimes is connected to the existing media or which may be made to be completely new (Boyd, 2013). The mass communication was possible through the broadcasting station or other transfer messengers in the past, but that is capable of delivery to the public directly in nowadays. Also, sharing the information between some public without some professional messengers is possible. A typical example is the birth of social media. Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg has created a new medium called Facebook. This is made easier communication between the public, it became a place where to share information faster in the network. People can easily access the important events in the society more than before. Social media has the main focusing that the speed unlike traditional medias. In addition, a personal website (private website) and blog were established to a space where people can get some specialized information. Due to these, people can find in-depth information tailored to their tastes in the space of the Internet. This promoted to reduce the role of reporter and announcer for the delivery information or events to the public. However, this serves as a benefit from another aspect. By connecting these process innovation and personal success, Kate Adie can be a good example of this case. She introduced some events of the dangerous areas, such as war or conflict to the British people (The journal, 2012). She always transfers the news through the BBC News, but other time except the news time is difficult for convey information to the public directly. However, after she quits the reporter at BBC, she still communicates with the public until currently. It was possible because she used the different media which are her website and radio. It was rather that making more popular more than before to her. Many people thought her as a professional journalist, and they felt a friendliness from her. This was possible because of a revolution in media delivery methods. The direct transfer method without some broadcasting station is a tremendous process innovation. The new scheme brought the public interest, which provided another opportunity for journalists to communicate with the public. The famous journalists including Kate Adie did not get public popularity just by their talent. They had been experienced as a media revolution with changing times. Of course, process innovation is important for succeeded people in other areas as well as mass communication area. Process revolution are present in all areas. Process innovation in the technical field is to bring simplicity of the production process, the process innovation in the social sector leads to a change in the social structure. Therefore, process innovation is an important keyword for success.

Kate Adie talking to ABC News Australia. (ABC News, 2011)

Audiences have become fragmented due to the increase of media choices, such as the Internet. Media fragmentation is defined as the “increase in the number of mass media and mass media outlets that have taken place during the past two decades (Turow 2009, p. 158)”. Before the 1990’s, the main forms of communication were radio, television and newspapers. These media necessarily did not cross over unless they had common ownership. Today, the Internet has brought many different ways consumers can get their news, such as YouTube, Snapchat and Periscope. Traditional media such as newspapers are an example of a media that is struggling to adapt to the competition of the Internet. Pena-Fernandez et al. (2016, p. 28) describe the struggles of print journalism in relation to the Internet. Print newspapers have a structure and technique that is rigid due to the “technological and formal evolution of the medium itself over decades (Peña-Fernández et al. 2016, p. 28). However, digital newspapers break from that structure, having a “simple and vague visual composition” that is unlike the print newspaper (Peña-Fernández et al. 2016, p. 28). Television and radio are facing the same challenge; from worldwide television news channels being offered live on YouTube, to international radio streams being available to anyone on the TuneIn phone application. Journalists and other media professionals also have to adapt in the same way their forms of dissemination have. If they refuse to change to suit the needs of consumers, and face the challenges of a forever-changing medium, they will be left behind very quickly.

Adaptability can be split into two categories, technological and globalisation. Adaptation via globalisation is when a journalist takes into account different world perspectives to tell their story. This creates which “create politically significant news spaces within social systems, lead to social change, and privilege certain forms of power (Reese 2010, p. 344)”. Hispanic-American journalist Jorge Ramos is an example of a media professional that adapted to new audiences and a new culture. Ramos says Hispanic children don’t watch Spanish-language television because they’re more confident and fluent with the English language (Moyers & Company, 2012) and have different viewing habits to their Spanish-speaking parents (Aiderton, 2014). To address this need, Ramos was key in the launch of an English-language pay-television channel called Fusion. He brought his brand of journalism that he does everyday to a Spanish-language audience, through the program America with Jorge Ramos. He also has a strong social media presence through the use of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. Ramos was one of the first people to take advantage of a new video-streaming feature called Facebook Live (Folkenflik, 2016). These live streams, done during US presidential primaries earlier this year, have garnered views of up to four million people (Folkenflik, 2016). Ramos has said through Facebook Live, he is “going to where the audience is (Folkenflik, 2016).” In light of Jorge Ramos’ example, adaptation is highly important for a successful career in Journalism, Media and Communication. One must be able to adapt their viewpoint to suit the diverse cultures that inhibit our society today. In addition, as explained in depth in the next section, media professionals must be willing to learn new technologies and be able to reach new audiences from it.

Live at Facebook/ En vivo en Facebook

Posted by Jorge Ramos on Tuesday, March 15, 2016

(Jorge Ramos, 2016) | If video is not viewable in-context, click here to view.

Innovation has become the buzzword that every journalist has had to come to terms with, the only term more pronounced in a modern journalist’s life would be social media presence. In a world where you have to hook your audience in 30 words or less and any article without photo and/or video accompaniment is considered old hat, a journalist looking to get their content to their audience must learn how to adapt with the changing times. Adaptability is a virtue that encompasses many different concepts in media from globalisation to convergence but one of the core tenants that any successful media practitioner will have is an ability to use new tools and methods to tell their stories. These tools have recently and ever more increasingly come from the digital space. Facebook has become the go to news feed for millions, while metropolitan newspapers have begun to shrink more and more; Junkee delivers news with a strong emphasis on their younger demographic while physical magazine readers grow older and older. In order for practitioners to adapt to the changing technological landscape while still delivering valuable news they have to learn where and how to evolve their platforms. The physical magazine may be an inconvenience for the more tech-savvy growing audience, but the e-magazine can still deliver that same format with all the social integration and multi-media elements we’ve come to expect from our news. Good journalism will never be out of style but the platform that news is delivered on has changed dramatically. The importance of technological adaptability can be seen when examining media convergence and understanding the technological landscape that the modern journalist will find themselves in. The word convergence is defined as being ”Technological, cultural and societal changes in the way media circulates in our culture” (Henry Jenkins, 2006). When viewed in a media sense convergence is the process in which media are fusing into one new medium, this has been happening increasingly with the advent of the internet that has made print, television, and radio easier to consume and produce than ever before. Broadcasting television can now be a simple matter of recording content on a smartphone and directly uploading that video to YouTube, instead of taking on massive printing costs a person could take that same smartphone and type a blog post alongside an audio recording bypassing the need for expensive recording equipment, theoretically a full range news publication could be run off of a single smartphone. It’s this convergence of medium that journalists have taken advantage of to explore new ways to reach their audience in easier and experimental ways with lower costs and much larger potential audience.

(MIT CMS/W, 2014)

In conclusion, the three key aspects to a successful career in journalism, media and communication are interrelated. These ‘secrets’ can be likened to a ‘circle of life’ – a complete ecosystem where every element is vital for maximum success. For a JMC professional, it has to start with passion. One has to be passionate about what they are doing, and for their audience/market. Passion serves as the inspiration to innovation. A JMC professional would strive to provide new and unique ways to reach audiences or a target a particular market. In light of innovation, comes adaptation. Someone working in the field of journalism, media and communication will be required to adapt to new markets and new technologies as innovation will significantly change the media landscape. Be passionate, be innovative and be able to adapt – the three qualities to have in order to have a successful career in journalism.

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