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Veterans group presses on with online job fair for journalism careers despite pandemic

Air Force Staff Sgt. Devin Boyer, a photojournalist for the 86th Airlift Wing at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, reviews his imagery during exercise Frozen Defender in Grostenquin, France, Jan. 16, 2020.

DEVIN NOTHSTINE/U.S. AIR FORCE

By THERON GODBOLD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: May 19, 2020

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A fledgling nonprofit dedicated to helping military veterans find work in the news media is moving forward with plans for a July career fair despite mounting odds in a coronavirus economy.

Military Veterans in Journalism, a nonprofit organization helping veterans find their way through the maze of civilian journalism jobs, is holding a virtual career fair July 1.

Originally slated as an in-person workshop for veterans, the coronavirus outbreak forced the group to scramble for a new plan.

“COVID-19 really threw a wrench in everything we had planned for the year,” founder and executive director Zack Baddorf said in an email Thursday, referring to the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. “We’ve had to scramble to find different ways to serve our members. Since we can’t do in-person events for the foreseeable future, we decided to go digital.”

Due to social distancing requirements, Military Veterans in Journalism is switching to a four-hour Zoom event with breakout rooms where applicants can interview with representatives from more than 10 major media outlets, including NBC, NPR, the New York Times, Penske Media Corp. and the Military Times.

The career fair comes at an uncertain time for veterans looking for work in journalism. Businesses closed during coronavirus lockdowns spend next to nothing on advertising, which translates to furloughs or layoffs for journalists. Roughly 36,000 news media employees across the U.S. have been furloughed, laid off or had their pay reduced this year, according to an April 10 report by the New York Times.

“The effects of COVID-19 are already being framed as an ‘extinction event’ for journalism, causing dozens of news outlets to collapse around the world. Tens of thousands of newsroom jobs have been lost or reshaped by the pandemic,” said an article by Julie Posetti and Emily Bell published May 13 at niemanlab.org, an industry website.

Consequently, it’s more important than ever that veterans take advantage of programs and events like those Military Veterans in Journalism are holding to network and build relationships, Baddorf said. It’s always been tough to get media jobs and vets need to use every opportunity available, he added.

Rich Dolan, the organization’s outreach manager, said he found nothing but support from every news outlet he contacted while organizing the career fair.

“I’m coming off of six years on active duty in the U.S. Army,” he said by email. “I was an infantry officer, which at face value has no journalism-like skills, but like I used to tell my soldiers, serving in the infantry sets you up for success in any career — as long as you know how to sell yourself.”

In preparation for the virtual career fair, Military Veterans in Journalism is also hosting a resume webinar on June 3 with Andy Limpus, senior director of talent acquisition for Penske Media Corp., whose publications include Variety and Rolling Stone.

“We invite interested vets to sign up for this amazing opportunity to potentially land a rewarding job in journalism,” he said.

Veterans can sign up by visiting www.mvj.network/events. The deadline to register is May 27 for the resume review and June 22 for the career fair. Resumes will be shared with media employers in advance of the event and there is no cost to join either event.

godbold.theron@stripes.com
Twitter: @GodboldTheron

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