I want to be a journalist. I’ve wanted to be a journalist for quite a long while. My desire to be a journalist gave birth to this blog three years ago. My next step in this journalism journey is going to university to study it, later this year. Wooooo!
Over the past couple years, I have been advised and I have researched intensively how to improve myself to ensure I am ready to become a journalist. I am by no means an expert in this field yet obviously, but I have a few tips that hopefully will steer you to the right direction, especially if you want to be a presenter, journalist, reporter or writer.
- First of all, you need to love reading and writing. As obvious as this sounds, you would be surprised how many people want a career in Journalism, but groan when asked about books or panic when asked to write a short story. Mate, you need to love reading and writing.
- Secondly, you need work experience or work placements. This needs to be done as soon as humanly possible. Seriously, start now. It doesn’t even matter if you haven’t finished high school yet – get work experience. Now, I mean no disrespect when I say this but when I say work experience, I am not referring to working in a primary school or a retail outlet. What I mean is in the media industry – intern in your local newspaper, magazine or radio station. Or all three. Anything and everything is valuable experience. Here are a few good sites to begin your search for placements, work experience, internships and apprenticeships: https://gothinkbig.co.uk/, http://www.apprenticeships.gov.uk/, http://www.bauermedia.co.uk/ and https://www.gov.uk/browse/working/finding-job.
- Thirdly, get yourself online. Nowadays, everything is online and we (as young journalists) need to use this to our advantage. All these media outlets and institutions are now increasingly using social media and online services. The online world is constantly expanding and evolving, rapidly – do not allow it to leave you behind! You (as a young journalist) need a twitter account. It is necessary to find out about news and opinions on news stories, literally as they are happening all over the globe. Keeping up with current affairs is everything (forget Keeping Up with the Kardashians) in this profession. Make sure you follow broadsheet and tabloid newspapers, radio shows and media cooperation (follow me while you’re at it: PaulaPaceSetter;) such as; The Guardian, Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Independent, Sky News, BBC News, Radio 1 etc. You cannot be a journalist if you aren’t interested in the world around you. You cannot live in a social bubble.
- Start researching universities from now. This one may be a little early or a little late depending on how old you are, but generally this is an important step in the whole journey. Find a course that balances all media platforms, especially online journalism which is an emerging mode. Also, make sure you find a course that is taught by established and practising journalists – that way they aren’t teaching out of date content.
- This one closely follows the previous step but is SO important it deserves it’s own number. Only go for universities that are NCTJ accredited. The National Council for the Training of Journalists has been training journalists since 1951. This course is the industry benchmark that ALL editors value and expect from their journalists. Make sure you go to a uni that offers this qualification alongside your BA or MA in Journalism because trust me when I say, it will be much harder to get a job with just a regular journalism degree. Do not waste three or four years of your life on something that doesn’t open doors to your dream job.
- Ensure that you can spell and write in good grammar. This seems really silly and small but honestly this is super super important. I recently completed (and passed) a 2-hour Journalism admission test at a university and honestly, I almost fell at the hurdle of the spelling and grammar part. It made me realise how much work I need to do on spelling. I cannot rely on spellcheck forever.
- At any stage in the Education system when you are deciding what subjects to do, ensure you pick essay based subjects. You need to learn how to cohesively structure writing in and interesting but functional way. Here is a list of subjects I suggest from; English Language, English Literature, English Language and Literature, Sociology, Psychology, Media Studies, History, Geography, Law, Government and Politics, Philosophy and any modern foreign language.
- Lastly, practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Find a story in your local area, get interviews and write an article. Just write. Then ask someone to read it and get feedback. then build on that feedback and build up a portfolio of your work. This blog is kind of my version of that.
I hope this tips are some what helpful. If they are, I’m glad.
Paula Melissa x