How thankful are you for your role in journalism today?

Here’s my shout-out to all you fellow journalists, working today instead of hitting the malls, sleeping in or lounging on the couch, like the rest of America today.

(Okay, I suppose some of you have been assigned to covering folks at the mall, but still….)

Allow me to turn things over to you today. How are you feeling about your journalism career, as the first decade of the 21st century moves toward its finish? How thankful are you for your role in journalism today?

Me? I’ve been on my own for going on 18 months now, and am throughly enjoying the adventure, though the lack of a constant paycheck (and employer-paid retirement or health benefits for my family) cranks up the stress some months.

But how much security would I have now working in a newsroom? Not so much, I’m afraid. At least by working on my own, I can exert more control over my future, building an audience, soliciting advertisers, and working new income opportunities. I’m not dependent upon a boss figuring out those new revenue opportunities, or a corporate board freaking out about its ROI. My life, and career, are on me, alone, and given how much bad management’s out there in this field today – that might be the most secure position to be in.

I’d love to hear where OJR readers are, and what you think. Please answer the poll question above by clicking on the situation closest to yours’, and then leave a thought in the comments. (Please also note that comments are held for review before being posted live to the site, no thanks to the spammers who seem to think this a lucrative place to post.)

Thank you for your ongoing support of OJR, and have a wonderful holiday season!

About Robert Niles

Robert Niles is the former editor of OJR, and no longer associated with the site. You may find him now at


  1. I am still a student, but I am also working my way through journalism. I am thankful for finding such an interesting profession, but I am also worried that some day I won’t be able to support myself or my family though my career.
    I’m hopeful, though, that we are building a better future for our profession by embracing technology and by understanding that this is a new age for journalism.
    We need to learn how to manage ourselves. Having a manager on the payroll that knows nothing about the basis of journalism is as much a mistake as having a journalist on the payroll that knows nothing about management basics. We need to branch out our academic and empirical preparation. Multitasking. We need to learn html, we need to learn accounting, we need to learn graphic design… so that the next time anyone asks if journalism is just about writing, we can show them it’s a whole more complicated than that, with arguments that non-journalists can actually understand.

  2. I’ve been a self-employed word wrangler for more than 13 years after spending 25 years in the newspaper business. The skills I learned as a reporter and an editor have served me well and so has the gritty get-the-job-done approach that prevailed during the 20 years that I worked for Gannett.

    Self-employment has been good for me and I think it has been good for others as well who are similarly employed.

    For the last 10 years, I’ve published a subscription newsletter and community for freelancers called Freelance Success ( Last week as we neared the end of what many of us see as a tough year, I surveyed subscribers about their earnings and their perceptions of business conditions in 2009. Granted the participants were self selected, but I was surprised that of those people surveyed who freelance full time, about 50 percent said they earned between $40,000 and $70,000 this year and 25 percent reported making more than $70,000. 50 percent said that their income had declined in 2009 and about 60 percent of those people blamed their lowered earnings on cutbacks in the magazine world. About 25 percent said their income had risen last year and they credited their exploration of new markets — mostly new media markets.

    I read these results as good news