Just because you aren’t working as a journalist anymore doesn’t mean you can’t draw on that skill-set.

The following column was adapted from the opening address at Beyond Journalism on June 2, in Toronto, Ontario.

By Errol Salamon, Work and Labour Editor

Moving beyond journalism may seem just as scary to emerging journalists as it is to established journalists who haven’t lost their jobs yet, or to former journalists who have already headed down a new career path.

Beyond journalism could mean doing journalistic work for non-news or non-media companies. It could mean not even being a journalist, but using journalistic skills such as information gathering and processing, reporting, writing, and multimedia storytelling to do other jobs and still make an impact on your community.

When I first thought about the idea of “beyond journalism,” I pictured a laid-off newspaper journalist-turned-Uber-driver who got story ideas from their passengers for their digital news startup. Think the Uber Journalist seems unlikely? Maybe not anymore.

In Canada and elsewhere, it has become commonplace to read news reports of layoffs in journalism. In January 2016, Postmedia cut 90 jobs across the country and merged newsrooms in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Ottawa.

We can add to the list of job losses this year 13 layoffs at the Toronto Star, 26 jobs cut at the Guelph Mercury after the paper stopped publishing a print edition, 10 positions gone at the Nanaimo Daily News after the paper closed, and seven editorial staff laid off at Metro Toronto. The list goes on and on.

These reports of job cuts typically lead to the questions, “What do laid-off journalism workers do next? What’s your plan B?”

There’s even a closed Facebook group now aptly titled “What’s Your Plan B?” With nearly 8,000 members, the group serves as a forum for former journalists and their colleagues to discuss strategies, share success stories, get support, and post jobs, of course. Former photojournalist Russ Kendall started the group in July 2014 after turning to his plan B: opening a pizza company in Bellingham, Washington called Gusto Wood-Fired Pizza Catering.

“I used to give free pizzas to any journalist who was laid off,” Kendall told the Nation. “I had to stop because there are so many of them now.”

While these questions are important, it’s time to ask others, too: How can j-school students and emerging media workers use their journalistic training and skills to forge careers in other fields? What if your plan B was actually your plan A?

Journalism isn’t just for journalists, after all, and journalists can find sustainable and meaningful employment outside of journalism. It’s for this reason that we should look beyond journalism. Beyond journalism can capture the range of jobs people are doing with their journalism training: for instance, journalistic projects at non-governmental organizations, book publishing, podcasting, concert promoting, writing for an intergovernmental organization, and much more.

I’m tired of hearing proclamations that journalistic work is dead because of all the job losses. I want you to know there is still life within and beyond journalism.

“None of us are only what we do,” Kendall told the Nation. “We’re all so much more than that. The things that make us good at our newspaper jobs will help us find our plan B after newspapers.”

Journalism skills are transferable, wrote Melanie Coulson, a former journalist and now digital communications instructor at Carleton University. You can use these skills to make a difference in the world, if that’s what you want to do.

[[{“fid”:”6146″,”view_mode”:”default”,”fields”:{“format”:”default”,”field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]”:””,”field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]”:””},”type”:”media”,”link_text”:null,”attributes”:{“height”:229,”width”:150,”style”:”width: 100px; height: 153px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;”,”class”:”media-element file-default”}}]]Errol Salamon is a PhD candidate in communication studies at McGill University. He’s co-editor and contributor to the forthcoming book Journalism in Crisis: Bridging Theory and Practice for Democratic Media Strategies in Canada (University of Toronto Press). His research has also been published in Digital Journalism and tripleC: Communication, Capitalism and Critique. You can find him on Twitter @errolouvrier. 

Errol Salamon is a contributing editor at J-Source. He is a senior lecturer in digital media and communication in the department of media and performance at the University of Huddersfield. He taught in the Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Minnesota. Salamon is also co-editor of the book Journalism in Crisis: Bridging Theory and Practice for Democratic Media Strategies in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 2016).