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Job shadow allows for professional reflection


I spent half of last Wednesday being job shadowed by an Estacada High School senior who is interested in the journalism profession.

This enabled me to dispense some of the wisdom I’ve acquired in my decade-long career, which could accurately be described as a graduate school of hard knocks.

Job shadows are a great way to learn about your potential profession and make contacts that could later prove critical. I remember doing a job shadow as a high school senior with the news director of Grants Pass Broadcasting. Ten years later, to the day, I was news director there and had a student shadowing me.

Over the years, I have often wondered what would have happened if somebody had let me know what I was in for as a journalist in the twenty first century. Would I have done anything differently?

The news business has obviously changed a lot with the advent of Internet technology. As a result, the professionals charged with providing news coverage to the public have faced many challenges.

I got to inform my job shadow of all that I’ve been through in the business. My first paying journalism job was at a weekly newspaper in Central Point, located right outside of Medford. I started days after the end of my junior year in college. It was a part-time position at that point, so I kept my other part-time job at the Picture People in the Rogue Valley Mall. Yes, that is the place with the ridiculous propeller hats.

The Central Point paper went out of business shortly after the 2002 general election. I got the rug pulled out from under me for the first time, but not the last.

After college, my first job was at a daily newspaper in Central California. It was part of a chain and had many sister publications. That was all great, except the parent company was bankrupt and started selling off its assets. This coincided with the expiration of the six-month lease on my apartment, so I packed up my stuff and left town at the first available opportunity. I also swore up and down that I would never again work for a newspaper.

But I took a job at a weekly in Rogue River in late 2005, working for a very dear friend of mine. He, of course, sold the paper about a year later. The same thing happened again a few years later in Cave Junction, and I tried to retire from the business one more time.

Desperation made me crawl back just over a year ago. I was covering the health care and education committees during the February 2012 legislative session for Oregon Capitol News.

It came as no surprise, though, when that entity ceased publication about a year ago.

For someone who’s tried to retire from journalism so many times, I must admit that I’m having a really good time doing it in Estacada these days.

And I’m sorry if I ended up discouraging you, Joey—but I sure do hope you can learn as much from my experiences and mistakes as I have.

Scott Jorgensen is associate editor of the Esatcada News.