Media professionals take aim at ‘moving target’ at JCOM Career Day

LOGAN—With flashes of humor and the sharing of personal stories, the message that journalists must be flexible and have diverse skills to survive in today’s changing media market was repeated and reinforced by a panel of media professionals at Utah State on Friday.The session, part of a day-long Career Day event sponsored by the Journalism & Communication Department, featured six communication professionals, all of whom had seen their career tracks shift with the economy and changes in mass media.”You’re in a prime situation,” said JCOM alumnus Scott Garrard, program director and host at the Utah Jazz Radio Network. “You’re willing to do things cheaper, work harder and longer.” Journalism students of today will replace an older generation that resists change, he added.About 20 students, along with JCOM faculty and other media professionals filled room 101 of the Merrill-Cazier Library for advice on adapting to the converging media market.The title of the session, “Moving Target: (Re)Inventing Your Media Career,” was immediately reinforced by the career tracks and advice from the speakers, five of whom were USU alumni and all of whom had changed their career paths in recent years.Garrard, who was a public relations major while a student at USU, went straight into radio for the Utah Jazz. But the common skills required in all media professions mean that flexibility is not only possible, but a real strength in the current market, he said.”There will be opportunities out there,” Garrand said, “but maybe not where you thought.”A major theme during the discussion was how to transition between different communications specialties, as most panel members have worked in more than one media field and many graduating students will, too, if they want to survive.Tania Mashburn graduated in 2000 with a degree in broadcast journalism and worked for almost a decade as a TV producer, most recently at KUTV2 in Salt Lake, before becoming a public information officer for the Utah Department of Transportation last year.A flexible attitude and portable skills can help in the transition among various media careers, she said. “It can only help you if you get skills that translate into both jobs.””What helped me is that I know what’s newsworthy,” Mashburn said, talking about how she transitioned from her job as a TV producer to public relations work.Lori Buttars, a 1988 JCOM graduate, was a reporter for The Salt Lake Tribune for 20 before moving into her current position as public information officer for the Weber-Morgan Health District. “I couldn’t do PR for something…

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