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Sources of Additional Information
Circulation Managers face keen competition for these highly sought-after jobs in the industry.
The ability to meet tight deadlines is crucial for most jobs in this industry.
Mergers will make firms more productive and limit employment growth; computerization will cause the number of newspaper printing jobs to decline.
Nature of the Work
Publishers’ publicity, marketing, and circulation departments are responsible for promoting a publication and increasing sales and circulation. Book publishers, in particular, promote new books by creating elaborate publicity campaigns involving book signings and public appearances by the author.
Sales, promotion, and marketing occupations. Magazines, newspapers, and directories, in particular, employ many advertising sales agents, who generate most of the revenue for these publications. Using demographic data produced by the market research department, they make presentations to potential clients promoting the use of their publication for advertising purposes. Increasingly, advertising agents sell integrated packages that include advertisements to be placed online or with a broadcast subsidiary, along with additional promotional tie-ins. This job can require substantial travel for some, while others may sell advertising over the telephone. Classified advertising sales are handled by telemarketers or customer service representatives, depending on who is making the call. Advertising and promotions managers, called circulation directors at some magazines and newspapers, study trends and devise promotion campaigns to generate new readers. They also work with the driver/sales workers to ensure that the publications are delivered on time.
The ability to communicate well is one of the most important skills needed to enter the publishing industry. Although it is especially critical for those in the editorial and sales departments, it is also required for those in production, who may be called upon to compose text. Computer literacy also is becoming a requirement for almost everyone seeking work in this industry. And finally, the ability to meet tight deadlines is a must for most workers.
Writers, reporters, and editors generally need a bachelor’s degree. Most people in these occupations majored in English, communication, or journalism. Some publishers, however, prefer graduates with liberal arts degrees or specific subject knowledge if the person will be writing about a certain topic or doing technical writing. For the most part, Writers and editors need to be able to express ideas clearly and logically and to write under pressure. Familiarity with desktop publishing software is helpful.
Writers and editors often start as assistants, performing fact-checking, doing research, or copy editing along with clerical tasks. News reporters often start by covering local community events or criminal cases and advance to reporting regional or national news. Writers and reporters can advance to editorial positions, but some choose to continue writing and advance by becoming nationally known experts in their field.
A college degree is preferred for most advertising, sales, and marketing positions in which meeting with clients is required. Courses in marketing, communication, business, and advertising are helpful. For those who sell over the telephone, a high school degree may be sufficient. However, more important for success are excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Those in advertising and sales must be able to get along with others, as well as be self-motivated, well-organized, persistent, independent, and able to handle rejection. Enthusiasm and a sense of humor also help. One advances in these fields by taking on bigger, more important clients or by going into management.
Most prepress technicians and printing machine operators learn on the job by working alongside experienced craftworkers. Although a high school education is sufficient to get a job, taking classes in printing techniques or getting an associate’s degree at a postsecondary institution will enhance one’s credentials and make it easier to get a job and to advance. Computer skills and familiarity with publishing software packages are important because prepress work and printing are increasingly computerized. Training on new machines will be needed throughout one’s career. Advancement usually comes by working on more complex printing jobs or by becoming a supervisor.
Most professional jobs in this industry require experience, especially if one wants to work for a top newspaper, magazine, or book publishing company. Experience can be obtained by working for a school newspaper or by performing an internship with a publishing company. However, most people start by working for small publishing companies or newspapers in smaller cities and towns and work their way up to better paying jobs with larger newspapers or publishers. Others break into the field by doing freelance work.
Over the period 2002-12, wage and salary employment in publishing, except software, is projected to decline by 1 percent, versus growth of 16 percent for all industries. As the need for news and information continues to grow, the publishing industry will be in the forefront. Books, newspapers, and magazines, produced in a variety of media, will be needed to keep people informed. However, efficiencies in production and a trend towards using more freelance writers will cause wage and salary employment to decline overall. Keen competition for jobs also can be expected for most writing and editing jobs, as this industry attracts a large number of applicants, especially at nationally known publications. Writers with specialized knowledge and those who can write on subjects appealing to minority and ethnic readers will have better job prospects.
The need for workers in the publishing industry also varies with the economy. When the economy is depressed, advertising declines and publishers look to cut costs and personnel. In addition, when the economy is down, State and local governments cut back on spending on books for schools and libraries.
Newspaper subscriptions have been declining for many years, as more people turn to television for much of their news. Many people also are turning to Internet news sites. In addition, as the population becomes more diverse and spread out, newspaper publishers are finding that their costs are going up as they attempt to increase readership by adding more stories of interest to ethnic and suburban audiences. However, mergers in the industry have also made newspapers more efficient. Reporters and advertising agents can now write stories or sell advertising for several newspapers at once and multiple newspapers can now be printed at one location. Those working in company administration also are more productive. Although the number of mergers is expected to decline in the next decade, additional efficiencies are expected to decrease the number of people required to produce a newspaper. These efficiencies will be particularly apparent in the printing plants. As computerization of the printing process becomes widespread, more printing plates will be made directly from electronic images of publications’ pages, which have been developed, stored, and transmitted by computer, Employment of prepress technicians and printing machine operators is expected to decline because fewer will be needed to operate the new computerized equipment.
It also is anticipated that the Federal Communications Commission will relax the rules banning ownership of television stations and newspapers in the same market. If this happens, workers may be required to work in both the broadcast and print mediums. Photographers, for example, will also have to learn to use video cameras.
Periodical and book publishing, along with miscellaneous publishing, will likely grow more slowly than in the past. Although mergers are becoming less frequent within the book publishing business, they are expected to continue in magazine publishing, leading to more efficiencies and reduced labor needs. However, several types of publishing should see increased growth. The segment of the industry producing textbooks is expected to benefit from a growing number of high school and college students over the next decade and the need to implement new learning standards in classrooms. Technical and scientific books and journals also will be needed to relay new discoveries to the public. Custom publishing, in which a magazine publisher produces customized newsletters and magazines for clients, also is expected to grow, as more businesses and organizations use magazines to promote new products and retain customer loyalty.
Job openings for advertising sales agents will be in rough balance with the supply of workers, as this occupation is subject to more turnover than most. The need for more sales agents to sell for a wider range of mediums will be offset, at least in part, by the fact that mergers have resulted in fewer advertising agencies to deal with.
The best job opportunities in the future will be for those who have good computer skills and can work in multiple mediums. Most newspapers and magazines, in particular, now have Web sites that are regularly updated. Some of these sites require additional writers, reporters, and editors to update content. The sites also need Web coders and designers and other computer experts to maintain the sites. The production of e-books, which are likely to grow in popularity over the next decade, will require people skilled in incorporating graphics and other digital inputs.
Technological advances will continue to eliminate and change jobs in this industry. Prepress technicians and postpress workers (inserters, material handlers, and bundlers) will continue to lose jobs to automation. The production jobs that remain will require computer and mathematical skills.
In 2002, average weekly earnings for workers in the publishing industry varied by type of publication. Average weekly earnings for those working in periodical publishing were $595, for book publishing $585, and in newspaper publishing $483 compared with $506 for all industries. Writers, editors, and reporters working on major metropolitan newspapers or those with technical expertise writing for specialized magazines usually have the highest salaries. Advertising sales representatives usually earn a base salary plus an amount based on sales.
Advertising, marketing, promotions, public relations, and sales managers
Artists and related workers
News analysts, reporters, and correspondents
Prepress technicians and workers
Printing machine operators
Writers and editors
Sources of Additional Information
The Association of American Publishers, 71 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10003. Internet: http://www.publishers.org
For information about careers in newspaper publishing, write to:
The Newspaper Association of America, 1921 Gallows Rd., Suite 600, Vienna, VA 22182. Internet: http://www.naa.org
Information on most occupations in the publishing industry may be found in the 2004-05 Occupational Outlook Handbook. Among those occupations are:
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