In the olden days I would tell you just to research the companies you want to work for and then come see me about your application. These days, the journalism business is in a state of constant change. New technologies, like mobile and an increasing number of social sharing platforms are emerging, and they affect the way we collect and distribute news. So it's important for students to keep up with, not just the companies, publications and brands they like, but the industry itself.
A few years ago, a student came to my office wanting to do an internship at Gourmet magazine. "Did you know that Gourmet went out of business last year?"
Obviously, she did not. I was sorry that I had to break it to her! But she should have known. In an interview, the employer may ask your opinion about a recent development in the business. You should be able to talk with some knowledge about these things, because it shows you care and that you have a commitment to the field.
So how do you get this knowledge? Luckily there are several very good online sources. Work these into your web surfing diet.
Adage/MediaNews covers the advertising industry, and in the process, offers a lot of good information about which media companies. The site also keeps tabs on developments in digital advertising revenues, which is a key component for survival in media companies. This post explains the uptick in digital advertising revenues.
Here's a graphic I pulled from the story that shows the largest media companies in the United States today. Do any of these companies look familiar to you? Look at where the growth is occurring. And notice how Google and Facebook are considered "media companies." What's up with that? We talk a lot about this in Journalism 397 EJ: Entrepreneurial Journalism. (Take it next September :) Lots to think about here, right?
The Nieman Journalism Lab covers the waterfront: from journalism ethics and education to new developments in technology that are changing the industry. Good stuff.
Poynter.org is the site of the Poynter Institute, which offers so many services, it's hard to know where to begin. First, its NewsU site offers lots of free and low-cost online courses on a huge range of topics for journalists. Second, it keeps up with developments in the business. And third, it offers journalism students a wealth of tips and advice for getting started in the field. Here's a great post by Matt Thompson (who's a total gem of a blogger), on how to create a great journalism job application.