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June 6, 2004

Q: I’m a mid-career print journalist (nine years total) who so far has gotten by doing traditional beat/feature reporting. With the lousy job market and the long-term decline in newspaper circulations, I’m finally realizing that for job security (in whatever form of media) I need specialized knowledge — probably in business/financial, health/medical or high-tech.

That’s clearly where the jobs are. So my question is this: Are there specialized programs for mid-career journalists wishing to get a rapid  education in these fields, or any other way of backgrounding myself  thoroughly enough to convince an employer of my qualification? Or must I bite the bullet and get a master’s degree? 

R.S., California

A: You’re obviously looking for professional training that takes place in something under two years. I would look to mid-career fellowships (Michigan, Nieman, Stanford) that might let you stake out a specialty, or even shorter seminars in the specialties you outlined.

Also, look to gaining some expertise with just a few courses, perhaps taken as a non-degree student, rather than going for the full master’s.

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Joe Grimm is a visiting editor in residence at the Michigan State University School of Journalism. He runs the JobsPage Website. From that, he published…
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