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Author Topic: Journalism after JD  (Read 1210 times)

snarky

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Journalism after JD
« on: October 31, 2005, 02:46:32 PM »
Hello,

Im a 1L and I write articles for my school's legal website.  Wondering if anyone has heard of someone taking a JD to a journalism career?  I was a poli sci major, not journalism...but I am thinking it would be a blast to cover a legal beat for a respectable paper.  Any suggestions?

eloisa

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Re: Journalism after JD
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2005, 08:53:43 PM »
Just as a reality check:

Journalism doesn't pay well.  It would be possible in theory to go into print journalism after getting a JD, although I can't think of anyone who's done it.  But if you have significant student loans like most law students, repaying your loans would be incredibly difficult.

Another thing to consider is that jobs at larger papers are incredibly scarce and usually require 5+ years of experience.  Almost all beginning journalists start at newspapers with under 20,000 circulation -- where the pay is low.

Don't get me wrong, journalism is a great career.  I loved it.  But getting a JD and then working as a journalist presents several practical problems that you'd have to consider.

CrossFun

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Re: Journalism after JD
« Reply #2 on: October 31, 2005, 09:26:30 PM »
Actually there are quite a few journalists/commentators who have law degrees who are now doing investigative reporting such as Geraldo Rivera, Nancy Grace, Bill Kurtis, Carl Stern, etc.  As with anything, it may take a while to work your way up to making big bucks but still, pursue what you have a passion for.

snarky

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Re: Journalism after JD
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2005, 11:16:38 PM »
It would be possible in theory to go into print journalism after getting a JD, although I can't think of anyone who's done it.

did you have enough exposure in journalism to know this is true?  Not criticizing, but its hard to take anonomous advice without personally knowing the people who are making anecdotal claims.

"Another thing to consider is that jobs at larger papers are incredibly scarce and usually require 5+ years of experience.  Almost all beginning journalists start at newspapers with under 20,000 circulation -- where the pay is low."

yeah, i figured...I was hoping a jd would vault me over some of that, but this makes sense.  I'm wondering who writes for the reporters: i.e., Pennsylvania has 30+ periodicals that are only sold to attorneys covering recent legal developments.  I would be quite suprised if these werent written by jds...

How much is the pay at a mid-large size paper?  Lets say that a decent paper got my app and thought it would be good to have a jd with legal news experience writing their legal news.  Are you saying that HR departments wouldnt bump me up on the scale for having a professional degree that is higher than a masters in journalism?  I find it hard to believe that an HR department wouldnt pay me at least 40,000...which would put me close to poverty after loans, but I would consider that to be a min. for me...but I've obviously never been in the biz.

I'm also wondering who writes articles for findlaw, law.com, other websites...

Im really curious to know what you think about this.  What paper did you write for, if I may ask?


dbgirl

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Re: Journalism after JD
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2005, 01:45:48 AM »
I left a journalism career to pursue a JD ... and I've thought about going back again one day -- perhaps doing something along the lines of Court TV (Yeah, cuz those jobs are easy to get.)

I have to agree with what Eloisa said.
I have heard of people with JDs going into journalism for newspapers, but I don't know any personally.
Journalism pays poverty level wages unless you're working at a BIG paper. And breaking into that BIG paper is tough. I think some of the legal newspapers are written by people with JDs, but many are not.

I suggest you try to talk to some people that work at places you're interested in working and find out what their backgrounds are and how much they earn.
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l1lshady0

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Re: Journalism after JD
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2005, 03:01:51 AM »
hey,

    I used to have similar thought... going into journalism after getting a jd.  but what the ppl on here are telling you is true... there's no money in it... not for years and years anyway.  I'm working at a newspaper right now and I can tell you this is true.  By the way... print journalsim (newspapers/magazines, etc.) is supposedly a dying breed... newspapers all over the world are having a tough time these days with the explosion of the internet, t.v. reporting, etc. in recent years.

    I also have a friend getting a master's in journalism from nyu right now... she's expecting to make less than 30k a year when she gets out, despite having 50-60k to pay back in debts and living in NY or Boston... doesn't sound very nice.

    All that being said... I think that if you were to get a jd you could EASILY break into the industry and be heads and feet over other legal journalists... the question is... living with 80-100k to pay back and making nominal wages for at least 5-7 years.  My friend at NYU says that even with her degree, she can't expect to have a realistic shot at getting hired by a major media outlet until she's had at least that much experience.

sck

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Re: Journalism after JD
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2005, 06:57:01 AM »
I had an adjunct professor when in grad school (ok, she actually taught upper-level journalism classes, and this was when I was talking undergrad courses between departments) who was a sports writer for the paper (major city) and had a JD.

She was teaching courses in media and law.
 
You're not going to make a great amount of money, really, doing that, but it's certainly possible. I never did ask her why she did journalism and the JD. She made enough to afford a townhouse, at least, since I went there once.

(And for what it's worth, my boyfriend's brother-in-law went from journalism to teaching. He makes more money teaching. Money is also the reason I've given up my wish to go to New York and do publishing. If anything, it pays as much poverty wages as journalism does.)
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eloisa

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Re: Journalism after JD
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2005, 08:18:31 AM »
It would be possible in theory to go into print journalism after getting a JD, although I can't think of anyone who's done it.

did you have enough exposure in journalism to know this is true?  Not criticizing, but its hard to take anonomous advice without personally knowing the people who are making anecdotal claims.


Before coming to law school, I worked at a large Midwestern newspaper.

I was represented by a union and had far better wages than my friends who work at smaller papers.  Starting salary at our paper for someone without experience as a reporter -- regardless of how many degrees you have -- was $24,500.

And in the world of print journalism, that's a great starting salary.

I don't mean to discourage you.  It's entirely possible to combine journalism with a JD, and I think it would be a great combination.  But the wages in print journalism are low, and the newspaper world is struggling.  Most newspapers have had hiring freezes for some time, and even the biggest ones are struggling to maintain readership. 

I don't know anything about who writes for the legal periodicals, though.

snarky

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Re: Journalism after JD
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2005, 12:04:15 PM »
Thanks for all the responses!

I am officially taking journalism off my career to-do list...a shame, cause I think it would be a lot of fun, but goals should be realistic. 


shao2007

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Re: Journalism after JD
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2005, 10:25:57 AM »
You shouldn't give up on journalism just because of all the disheartening info on the low salary. You can always work as a lawyer for a couple of years and make your money and pay off loans and then become a lowering paying journalist. You could even work at a firm and try to earn some credentials writing articles for a small paper or magazine in your spare time (which will probably be very brief). Also, think about it this way if all you need is 5-6 years of experience to break into the big papers, that's only 5-6 crappy years for 30 great years.

Time to get back to reading some wonderful Contracts and the intricacies of ambigous contracts