Tips For Aspiring Journalists
I was fortunate to begin my career in the field of business journalism and for many of you it can be a very rewarding career. The industry is highly competitive in the UK and around the world but hopefully some of my tips will help any of you interested in the field.
Building a portfolio can help to set you apart from the competition. The following tips are based on my own experience as a journalist in building a portfolio, getting noticed by editors and other employers and landing my dream job as a journalist.
Tone- Depending on the type of publication you will have to adjust your writing ‘voice’ or style to suit the prospective reader. A story for news publications will vary in its tone and style compared to that of a fashion feature which typically will be more subjective and relaxed in nature.
Complexity- If you decide to specialise, which I eventually did into business journalism, it is important to remember that not all readers will understand complex or nuanced concepts therefore it is always wise to bear in mind whether your writing is too heavily jargon or convoluted. At the end of your article, always ask yourself: would my mother, father or friend be able to take away anything for this article? If not, revise your writing by adding expanded definition or examples to allow for an easier and more enjoyable read.
Grammar- On a global scale, the news desk is shrinking and as such, much of your work will pass less scrutinising eyes so it is crucial that your grammar and spelling are on point as editors will not always have the time to review your work thoroughly.
Photos-A picture is worth a thousand words! It brings a life to your story that would otherwise seem like a block of black and white. When thinking of an article to write, take along your camera and take a photo which you believe is representative of your story. Always take as many angles of the object as possible to provide you with better options later. Remember to ask permission of persons who you photograph, explaining to them the purpose and nature of your work and please, please ask them to spell their name, provide possibly age and occupation.
Outside of writing…
Teamwork-working in the media is great because of the camaraderie and the fact that many of your colleagues will share similar interests in current affairs. Collaboration is a great way to come up with leads to stories or to investigate cases. Working with a senior journalist or editor who you trust can incredibly boost your writing and journalistic ability and build your credibility in the field.
Networking- From heads of state to high ranking diplomats to the average citizen, you will have to encounter a variety of persons and personalities so if you do not like to interact, this may not be the industry for you. Yes, it is acceptable to be shy and your confidence will only improve over time.