Pros and Cons of Media Industry Careers

Journalist With Celebrities at Red Carpet Event


Jamie Grill / Getty Images 

Media careers appear to be full of glamor and prestige. While they definitely have their perks, you'll have to make difficult personal choices before you have a shot at making it to the top of the TV, radio, print or online industries. The pros and cons of careers in the media industry will help you decide whether to start or continue working in this challenging field.

Pros of a Career in the Media Industry

You are a witness to history: Consider the events that changed how media cover news. While every American experienced these important events, people in media got the chance to investigate, ask questions and share the information they uncovered. Media pros are more than just bystanders to history; they are part of the events.

Careers in the media industry can help you meet important people: Ask anyone who works in media about some of the people they've met and you might get a list of some of the top celebrities and newsmakers. This perk doesn't just involve reporters or radio announcers who conduct interviews. If a magazine decides to use a guest editor, even the receptionist or accountants have the chance to rub elbows with famous people and brag to friends and family about who popped into the office.

Careers in the media industry are full of surprises: You never know what a day will bring when you work in media. The early morning of September 11, 2001, started just like any other day until the terrorist attacks began. No one in media would consider that a good day, but it's an example of how media careers bring the unexpected. The attacks changed how media cover news in a way no one predicted. As with police officers or firefighters, people in media tend to thrive on not knowing what will happen when they arrive for work.

Cons of a Career in the Media Industry

A bad reputation: Many surveys show the public doesn't trust people who work in media. They feel as though objectivity in reporting is dead and that the news is full of bias. This mistrust extends beyond the news business. Accepting payola has long been a threat to the integrity of radio and magazine editors are routinely accused of photo manipulation to boost sales.

Personal sacrifices: Unless you're a top TV news anchor or have some other high-profile position, you can expect low pay and long hours when you work in media, especially in the beginning. Because the industry is so competitive, if you're not willing to accept these conditions, then the job will go to someone else. Using radio as an example, the top on-air jobs are usually during the morning drive-time hours, so to get the good paycheck, you have to be willing to be at work in the middle of the night.

That lifestyle puts a strain on personal relationships, and because many positions require a media contract, you may have difficulty quitting to take a better job somewhere else. If you're lucky enough to get a higher-paying job, you still aren't immune from media layoffs.

New competition: In days gone by, it was easy to put media careers into neat categories like broadcast or print. Today, newspaper reporters are forced to shoot video for websites and TV reporters are required to use Facebook or Twitter to post breaking news. Traditional media companies are having to learn to build their brand on the Internet and even writers have to learn to create web-friendly headlines and make sure their content is designed for SEO. Chances are, those lessons weren't taught back when they were in college.

As with any profession, there are great rewards and significant sacrifices in working in media. Consider the pros and cons to weigh your own personal happiness if you choose a career in the broadcast, print or online industries.