Open door

How I reinvented myself as a Journalist

“You are not only a Journalist. Your area of expertise now goes beyond that. You are a Content Developer and Strategist”. This is what my supervisor told me. It sounded like all my career goals had been finally stamped on my business card.

But is the above definition what I dreamed of when I got my Journalism degree almost 20 years ago?

Back then I wanted to try it all. “All” was newspapers, radio, and TV. Broadcast was music to my ears, and being in a news department was a must. When somebody told me: “go for specialized information rather than news. You will find more growing opportunity there” I thought: “Heretic!”. I was ready to become a member of the Fourth Estate and change the world Watergate style!

After a radio internship I worked for a newspaper in Barcelona. Upon being laid off one year later, I traveled to Germany. My then husband, who worried more about paying our bills than changing the world, sent a resume on my behalf and got me my first full-time job in… a Fashion magazine. Seriously?

The fact is that I loved it (hey, catwalk’s first row in Paris, champagne in a Rolls-Royce in England, being part of a fashion contest jury in Lisbon, the Casino in Monte-Carlo… what’s not to love?) and the learning that I took to my next job: that big paper template that showed all the pages of the magazine. Where we had to position the content and the advertising. All those little squares and the thought we put trying to organize the content taught me that, if I wanted, my career would not stop at mastering the art of interview and storytelling. Content management could give me a broader picture of the business.

Some years later I moved to California where local TV was thriving. I was finally able to set foot in News and Broadcasting. I started as a news writer but looked up to producers because they were in charge of the development and execution of the whole newscast.

The big picture again, with specifics like flow, teasers, visualization and ratings. I found my opportunity and had my own show to produce starting from scratch every day, and I was very happy. Out of happiness, we beat our competitor’s several times.

But suddenly it looked like investors had lost faith in the existing media and where scrambling to make room for the next big thing to come. In an emerging global media context “Local” was ill-fated. Newspapers had been suffering for a while and TV was next. “We need to reinvent ourselves” said one of my company’s top execs. It was over.

As a single mom of two I had to move fast. Specialized information gave me a new chance. When I told them I had found a job in a parenting site many of my peer journos frowned. I thought it was a very good time to pay attention to that other name I was called when I came back home: “Mom”.

I was determined to “digitalize” myself but it was not easy. Digital was moving so fast that I felt the grounds of Journalism shaking below my feet. I was irritated. Who are all those bloggers? Why create content from robot’s suggestions? What’s with hash tags and acronyms, and SEO and insights?

Sometimes I just wanted to drop everything and go live in the woods. Live from food preserves and livestock, and spend time with my kids under the stars. Simple life.

But there was always a new project that grabbed my attention. Curiosity took over and I started pinning, sharing, blogging, tweeting, posting and experiencing that new thing called social media. I went from denial to asking myself “What opportunities are in these changes for me?”

And I reinvented myself once again. Journalist is maybe not enough anymore. Or maybe my career was never intended as a Journalism “only” training. It was a five year degree that included Sociology, Economics and Politics. It was called “Sciences of Information”. ScienceS. See the plural? See the door open?

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Photo credit: seagers via photopin cc

Clarisse Céspedes

Journalist and Content Strategist. SEO, sponsorships and video. Follow me on Facebook and @ClarisseCespede.

9 thoughts on “How I reinvented myself as a Journalist”

  1. I loved this post. You inspired me. You’re a great Journalist and a very good writer. Keep up the good work!!

  2. You are so right! We always have to be prepared for change and take it as an opportunity to learn but it is very difficult and uncertain many times, we need to keep in mind that if we enjoy what we do we have -almost- won the battle.

  3. Dear Onlinista: We have parallel lives. Also a journalist, also finding myself with a tag that I am not sure about (content strategist). I guess going with the flow is what you have to do to pay the bills. At this stage, after 25 years in this field and four children, paying the bills is a main concern when it comes to career choices. However, I think that one way or another, we are doing what we love to do. Not a lot of people can say that.

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