From one year to the next …

October 2, 2009 | By | Category: General News, Student Newsroom

By Abby Selden

As a member of the Student Newsroom at last year’s Online News Association Conference, I energetically rushed around the hallways of the conference hotel, interviewing attendees on their favorite new technology trends and writing on the benefits of appealing to niche audiences.


I was champing at the bit to enter the world of online video production, and couldn’t wait to graduate and establish myself as a standout journalist. Now I’m here at the conference for the second time, less than a year from graduation. A lot can change in a year.

After spending several months in New York City as a 2009 Summer Fellow with the International Radio & Television Society, and discovering myriad jobs I didn’t know existed, I began to consider that perhaps online journalism was not the only career conducive to my interests. After all, I had always been interested in the prospect of going to law school, working in the non-profit sector, becoming a professor, working in public relations, working for a think tank and countless other possible careers.

At the opening reception last night, I discovered that honesty is definitely the best policy. When I told the first person I met, an online news editor, that my interest in online news was fading, only to be replaced with a multitude of other interests—including public relations—he offered to provide me with the contact information of friends he had in that field. When I told another online news editor about my eagerness to travel and to advance an array of social causes, he gave me even more suggestions I’d never considered, like working for a non-governmental organization. I also felt encouraged after meeting a college journalism professor, who told me he enjoys attending the Online News Association Conference because it allows him to better understand, and therefore teach, the rapidly evolving world of online media.

This sentiment hit at the heart of why I still enjoy learning about online media, even if I don’t eventually pursue it as a career: The malleable and unpredictable nature of online media is interesting to discuss and to analyze, and it affects all of us in profound, and sometimes unsettling, ways. I may be less interested than I was last year in pursuing a career in online news, but it was a reassuring and pleasant surprise to meet a number of online media professionals who encouraged me to think creatively and pursue my passions, while still applying the skills I’ve developed in my pursuit of an online journalism career that may never be.

Abby Selden is a senior at Belmont University in Nashville Tennessee

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