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Journ-optimism from across the sea

December 16, 2013

So, yes, it’s a weird journalism-jobs landscape.

Media outlets continue to bleed talent in the form of layoffs, buyouts and staff cuts, and a story out today on the Poynter website makes a case that, while newspapers continue to retain their position at the front of the traditional media pack when it comes to online advertising revenue, newspapers will lose more than half of their share of digital ads in the next five years.

But the news about news isn’t all gloomy. Persistent, talented students can graduate into amazing careers. Just ask Jessica Bartlett at The Boston Globe, Molly Shaker at Good Morning America or Connor Boals, formerly of Thomson Reuters and now a producer at the mobile-first startup NowThis News.

It doesn’t hurt to have a great internship, of course, both for U.S. students and those overseas. Belgian college student Lana Mortelmans wrote us recently to offer her insight into the global journalism sitch.

One takeaway message: Would-be journalists are struggling everywhere, yet optimism drives them on.


By Lana Mortelmans

LanaPicSixty journalism students are supposed to graduate this year from the AP Hogeschool in Antwerp. Most plan to work in the journalism sector, but more than 80 percent say they are afraid that they won’t find a journalism job. The media, their teachers, other journalists—everyone tells them how hard it is for journalists to find a job. The students are scared.

Perhaps they shouldn’t be. Every AP student has found an internship, and the vast majority believe that a good internship can facilitate the search for a job. Most hope to land a job in print media. But can they?

Though Belgian media is actually holding up well in comparison to other countries, print suffers more than other forms of media. This year, the circulation of Belgian newspapers decreased by 14 percent, with popular newspapers leading the decline. Last month, it was announced that another 205 Belgian newspaper journalists would be fired. The number of newspaper mergers keeps increasing. Belgian radio consumption decreased by 7 percent last year. Belgian television is doing better, with a decrease of just 3 percent.

Without new, energetic talent, journalism will be doomed. It’s up to our generation to make sure journalism will survive.

We all chose to study journalism because we’re interested in media. It’s a fact that the number of available journalism jobs is decreasing, but if we are demotivated now, we certainly won’t find journalism jobs. We should be proud to be journalists. I would be proud to call myself a journalist. And I’m sure I will be soon. I can’t wait to see my own journalistic work published. I hope that my fellow journalism students can find similar motivation as they step into the job market.

I hope that my fellow journalism students can find similar motivation as they step into the job market.

Lana Mortelmans is a 20-year-old journalism student in her third and final year at Artesis Plantijn University College in Antwerp. She hopes to become a television journalist. 

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