Dear  You,

Kenneth Knight, multimedia coordinator for the Tampa Tribune, spoke to our editing class today about his position and experiences, giving a sobering dose of reality to graduating journalism hopefuls about the economy and the state of the news industry.

Knight, with a background in broadcast media from Alabama, if I remember correctly, worked at the Tribune in varying capacities over the past decade and a half or so, working in print, online and multimedia.

Having a firm handle on writing skills is definitely a must, Knight said, but graduating students should have working knowledge and even specialize in new media tools and social networking, too. With layoffs happening every day – literally, college grads need a skill set that will separate them from the competition, which include recently laid off, seasoned journos.

The economy is pushing news organizations to cut staff left and right, requiring more of those who are employed. This means that you’ve got to be skilled at more than writing out of necessity. News organizations are pooling resources to create a seamless product across various platforms. Pick up that extra multimedia class now while you can. It may make all the difference in what you can offer an employer and what they can offer you.

I guess news isn’t for everyone, though, because when I heard a possible starting salary of $25,000, my jaw dropped. College students in the first or second year – think about the industry you’re entering, and realize that there’s a good chance you probably won’t get rich doing it.

Journalism is one of those things you’ve got to love, and if you do, it’ll be well worth it.