How to make the most of your journalism course
A reporter’s notebook and pen is no longer enough to equip you for daily life in the newsroom. You must be able to hit the ground running, whether you’re asked to do a video, online, audio or print story –and editors will sort out the wheat from the chaff in 140 characters these days.
But some basic principles still apply. Take them on board, sit at the front of the class, listen and you’ll be well on the way to getting that prized job.
Be passionate about writing. Sounds obvious but you’d be surprised by the amount of students who fail to convince their tutors they actually want to write. Their job applications will make it only as far as the editor’s waster paper bin.
Don’t keep repeating the same mistakes. Tutors will give you the benefit of the doubt once, possibly twice if you show you’re trying. Editors need NCTJ trained reporters who will swim not sink.
Be a better blogger. You have a free, readily available platform to showcase your abilities – use it. Writing any old blog is not enough to get you noticed. It has to be exceptional, well written and reflect your passion whether it’s news or niche. Find your voice and shout.
Use twitter. Once you’ve started don’t stop otherwise people will lose interest in you.
Keep up with the news: Read all the newspapers and take down the six o’clock news in shorthand — you’ll be teacher’s pet.
Shine at work experience. Elbow your way to the news desk and offer to cover evening and weekend events. The reporters will love you.
Be professional. If you get harangued by members of the public because the story you wrote doesn’t suit them or the subs butcher your story out of all recognition keep your head up high. Remember, it’s not how hard they hit you it’s how quickly you get up again that counts.
Get published. Students at Brighton Journalist Works are only a floor away from the Argus newsroom so there’s no excuse for failing to get stories in the newspaper. Failing that set up your own publication or magazine and by-pass those gatekeepers of news.
Learn how to use new platforms. Take time to get to know storify, tumblr, vimeo and audioboo – choose one and learn how to use it to good effect.
Practice shooting video and taking pics. You’ll be given an introduction at Brighton Journalist Works, but it’s down to you to hone your skills.
Get to grips with data journalism. That’s stats based stories to you and me. Where would Heather Brooke be without them?
Start a contacts list from day one. Go out and talk to people — the pub counts so there’s no excuse. Consider making up with those estranged friends and family, you never know when they’ll come in handy.
Have fun. It’s hard work but you’ll be rewarded if you make the effort. Imagine how you’ll feel when you get your first by-line.