Major in journalism and there are ministry jobs you don’t even know exist

Lots of Cedarville students have ideas about doing full-time ministry work after college. More and more that doesn’t mean you have to go to seminary or become a fully supported missionary. Those are and will always be great callings.

But what if you like to tell stories with words, pictures, video or all three? Lots of opportunities exist, but most students don’t hear about it because it doesn’t go by a specific name like journalist or reporter. A journalism degree, while it does prepare students to become news reporters, it also prepares them for skills to tell the stories that ministries and mission boards and Christian publications and websites want to tell. Many opportunities exist as a paid staff member or as a supported missionary.

I learned about two such opportunities this week. Below is a job posting for CCM Magazine.

If Christian ministry, Christian entertainment and Christian music are important to you, you’ll love working for us!  We’re Salem Publishing and we are accepting applications for a combined managing editor for CCM Magazine and Salem Publishing editorial assistant.   CCM Magazine has been the face of contemporary Christian music for over 30 years and has evolved into a Christian lifestyle magazine focused on the heartbeat of contemporary Christian music artists and non-artists alike.  This position will work in Nashville, Tennessee under the strategic direction of the Associate Publisher/Editor in Chief, will be the point of contact for the industry at large, and will work closely with our freelance writing team to bring together each issue of this twice-monthly, digital publication.  Exceptional editing/writing, interviewing and relationship skills are a must. 

 If you find this type of work exciting then you’re ready for the next step in our selection process.  Get your resume and writing samples to us via email, fax or postal mail:

 Executive Office

Salem Publishing, Inc.

402 BNA Drive, Suite 400

Nashville, TN  37217

This doesn’t look like an entry-level position for those of you graduating this year, but it is a reminder of the many types of jobs that exist for journalism majors and journalists who are thinking about a career move.

Samaritan’s Purse is the type of organization that is growing and hiring staff positions such as media relations coordinator and for internships.

I have assembled a job links page on this website that has links to ministry jobs as well as secular jobs. Job opportunities are more plentiful than you might think no matter your career stage.

Continuing education can also be a career boost. If you want to be a better multimedia storyteller, the ABWE mission board is offering a two-week program designed to help you grow as a storyteller and to help you see if ministry work might be what God is calling you to.

abwe tripsThe program is called Storytellers Abroad. Trips are planned for Nicaragua in April and Romania in June. Jeff Raymond was on campus last week and shared this opportunity with our students. He has room for 12 on each trip.

I wish I could go.

Longform (as it’s now called) has it’s place, but not all in one place

Call it longform, call it narrative form, call it great storytelling, call it whatever you want.

Bottom line: Great big, in-depth news and feature stories are what most journalists want to do, wish they could do and figure they don’t have the time to do. Or figure they can’t find an editor or publication or website to run it.

There are plenty of sites looking for this kind of material as the Columbia Journalism Review article referenced below points out. Another article in response to the CJR piece is worth reading as well for a different take on the issue.

I am a fan of this genre of story. I haven’t written many, but I dearly want to do more. And I have a couple good ideas right now if I can find the time. Realistically, I don’t know if I ever will.

Here is the key paragraph from the CJR article:

Deep, contextual reporting paired with emotionally resonant writing will continue to be vital, but publications built to satiate the journalist’s desire to write, as opposed to a reader’s desire to learn, risk creating a vanity project without a clear audience. “If it’s not for the readers then it doesn’t matter,” said Shapiro. “If you’re not satisfying readers then there’s no point.

I want to write these stories and I want my students to learn to write them. But is there an audience big enough for them?

Yes and no.

Yes, people like these stories. But, no, I don’t think they want them all in one place. There are links to several of these niche sites that publish and aggregate in the name of longform. One of them is even called Longform.

Newspaper readers and online readers have always been skimmers. This is nothing new with online if you think about it. Newspapers have headlines to attract readers to stories just like websites use Twitter, etc., to pull you in. News consumers don’t care as much these days where the story comes from. Not many have a list of bookmarks they go to every day. They increasingly use social media as a jumping off point.

I never go to the Chronicle for Higher Education website just to see what’s there. But I have recently read a couple of pieces there because I was pulled in through social media. And one was extremely longform.

Most readers are grazers and do not have the mindset of journalists. We pay attention to who wrote it, unconsciously calculate length, copy edit when we read and lots of other things ordinary readers don’t do.

We know we shouldn’t write and report for ourselves and our sources. The same is true for building a website. That’s why it is doubtful that sites dedicated to long stories will be financially successful. But long stories on sites that offer a variety of forms will always be a part of the landscape. Because sometimes a reader wants to graze and sometimes a reader wants a big meal.

My fear is that if these longform sites fail, execs and editors will say, “See, I told you. Nobody wants to read anything long.”

A healthy website is one that offers variety. Nobody wants to eat the same thing every night. And no one only wants to read short, medium or long. Newspapers thrived on a little big of everything. And websites will, too. It’s still journalism. Don’t confuse what people want to know and read with the delivery system.

Learning about leadership and what that can teach you

This past weekend I attended my first Society of Professional Journalists event. It only took me 27 years.

The event was about leadership. I am always interested in learning about different ideas about leadership, it was only an hour away in Columbus and the Scripps Foundation picked up almost all of the cost.

spj groupAs a professor and student media faculty adviser, I wanted to use this weekend to learn at least one thing about leadership that would help me. And I wanted to learn about getting an SPJ student chapter started at Cedarville. I learned both of those things.

The most important thing I brought home from the seminar/workshop came out of an exercise we did called the “5 Why Process.” We paired up and asked five why questions about why we had come. I learned that we could really get to the root why. Most importantly I got to my root why, which is to do whatever I can to help the Cedarville journalism program grow. That’s ultimately why I went. Coming to that realization, I hope, will increase my intentional acts to help the program grow in numbers and influence.

With program building more firmly in my mind, I was more engaged than I would have been when it came time to talk about putting our leadership skills into practice at the chapter level. I soaked up all I could about how to get started and make it relevant to journalism students, student media and even the rest of the campus. To sustain an active and successful SPJ student chapter will take a lot of work and encouragement. But it can be done. And I will use the “5 Why Process.”

An added benefit to the “5 Why Process” knowledge I gained is that it will be a good teaching tool for fledgling reporters. When you can’t get somebody to open up, I will teach them to tactfully dig into that area you want them to talk about with this process. Because most sources are probably a lot like me. They probably really don’t know why until somebody makes them talk about it.

If you wonder if a Ted Scripps Leadership Institute is for you as a student leader or as a professional, SPJ does a great job of recapping it online. The Storify also gives you a flavor for what the event is like.