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The Humanitarian Side of Journalism
You can make your journalism career humanitarian faster than you can say Scooby Doo, and frankly, it´s brave to even consider moving in this direction.
According to Maia Gedde, the authors of Working in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance: a career guide, there are lots of opportunities, but a master´s degree alone won´t guarantee you a job. The most important thing is relevant experience, says Maia. Here are some more tips from this author:
- It might be easier and faster to gain experience within the corporate sector first, if you´re a graduate that´s just left college. Corporate employers have more resources for your professional development, which you can use to gain skills and experience, before slipping seamlessly into the competitive world of nonprofits.
- Don’t jump straight into a master´s. You might find out you don´t like working in the area you´ve specialized in way too late, and have to go back and study another expensive graduate degree, or end up bitter about your options. Not nice. Working between your bachelor´s and master´s for a few years will help you focus and find out what´s really out there for the taking, and how you can do the most good through something you´re passionate about.
- Don´t forget that you don´t need to study in your own country to get a master´s. Gedde recommends the programs offered by institutions in Scandinavian countries, which are free of charge for EU nationals.
- Note that the communications roles within NGOs are varied: there´s internal communications, corporate communications for PR and advocacy, and communications for development C4D. Try each one, perhaps before you do a master´s, and you´ll know which you´d like to specialize in to make you stand out from that big old crowd.
- Don´t forget that you can freelance, especially for smaller nonprofit organizations, which usually can´t afford to take on a full-timer, and may allow you to gain experience early or in a more flexible manner.
There are many things you can do to crack into this rapidly changing sector. Work hard, remain determined no matter what happens, and try some tricks of the trade for getting inside that door.
Volunteering in a country you´re interested in can give you some great insights into what it´s like to work for an NGO. Tapping into your social and professional networks can unearth some interesting connections you could use to your advantage. Starting a blog, writing guest posts in the development space and showing you´re a motivated, effective communicator can´t hurt your career prospects. http://www.whydev.org/ could be a cool place to begin.
There are many opportunities out there to get involved in human rights, aid organizations and NGOs of all types. Journalists for Human Rights is currently looking for volunteers with a journalism degree to contribute to media development and human rights awareness in Eastern and Southern Africa for periods of up to 12 months at a time. If you don´t want to travel, there are opportunities that allow you to work from home.
As mentioned, communications jobs allow you to work within the many humanitarian organizations that don´t work with news coverage specifically, but liaise with the media about their various activities, like The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), a humanitarian organization with 60 years´ experience helping create a safer life for refugees. It is currently looking for a Media Adviser, who will be responsible for implementing NRC´s international media relations, external communication and its day-to-day appearance in international media; providing media training and support to relevant NRC staff; gathering media content and archiving photos and B-roll, etc.
The required qualification for this role include a minimum of 3 years of experience in professional media and communication work; experience in the field, preferably within NRC program countries; experience with photography and/or video editing. The duty station is in Oslo and the contract period is 12 months.
Save the Children is currently seeking an Information and Communications Manager. This 6-month contract position involves: delivering vital information and communication products during emergency response, enabling excellent media and fundraising activities for Save the Children Members and across Save the Children International. A master´s degree or equivalent field experience are listed as essential. You will be posted in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where there is a large expatriate community.
There are a number of ways to specialize if you´re interested in development and humanitarianism. Here are a few options.
The M.A. in Journalism, War and International Human Rights at the University of Lincoln, UK, is a 12-month program that costs GBP 15,605 per year. You can focus on war and the media, journalism and conflict resolution, international human rights for journalists, core broadcast or core writing for your final project. Teachers on the program have produced seminal texts on the field of peace journalism, according to their website, and they have connections with CND, MoD, Peace Pledge Union and other organizations.
The M.A in Journalism, Media and Globalization at Aarhus University, Denmark, is a European Erasmus Mundus Master´s program for those who wish you acquire the intellectual tools to practice journalism in our globalized world. This two-year program costs 8000 Euros per year for international students and non-EEA members. You can gain knowledge in one of the following specialist areas: media and politics, business and finance reporting, journalism and media across cultures or war and conflict.
The M.A. in The Politics of Conflict and Violence is a 24-month, online program offered by the University of Leicester that costs GBP 7805 for the full program. It´s designed to equip you with all the skill and resources you need to ask critical questions about the politics of conflict and violence occurring in the world, and includes the study of the following course: the politics of war and peace, the changing character of war, the nature and theoretical conceptualization of violence, humanitarian intervention. It´s also great for your professional development if you want to tackle a position at a non-governmental organization, the UN or in the media.
Ready to start your master´s study program? It´s bound to be an unforgettable period of your life, but sometimes it´s hard to get onto the program you want to be accepted onto the most. Need some assistance starting your humanitarian academic career? That´s what we´re here for! Get in contact as soon as you can so we can begin on your statement right away.