By Amy Johnston
Remember that proud feeling when you handed in a school report with your name printed in big letters on the front cover? Have you imagined seeing your name in print in a newspaper or a magazine?
How about those days when you created slide-shows of your friends on Windows Media Maker, accompanied perhaps by an emotive track from The OC? Have you considered turning your creative hand towards a career in broadcasting?
The journalism industry is appealing, with an ever-changing work schedule keeping journalists on their feet. From working in print, managing social media, creating tv and radio packages or utilising your communication skills in PR and Marketing, journalism thrives on transferable skills.
Communication: Be prepared to roam the streets begging pedestrians to speak into your microphone for a quick vox pop on a topical issue, or picking up the phone for an impromptu interview. Don’t panic, interviewing musicians and fashion designers could soon become second nature!
Initiative and Persistence: Keep trying those phones, and email, Twitter, Facebook…
Whether you are trying to get in touch with a contact for a quote, or getting your foot in the door for those essential work experience placements, determination and enthusiasm is essential.
Creativity: It might seem a bit daunting to start up a blog, but once your first post is up and received its first like, you’re away! Write about things that come naturally to you, whether it is a shopping wish-list, documenting a new hobby you’re trying out over summer, or displaying your photographs or videos. Keep it updated and you’ll find yourself building up a varied portfolio to impress future employers.
Multi-media: Stories are constantly updated online to meet the demand of users who can access content in a variety of ways- via mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. Remember that whatever you produce for print can be shared instantly online, creating an endless audience to see your name in lights on the credits. Communication is also key online- keep the conversation going with your audience and see your story grow.
- There are around 60,000 journalists in the UK
- About ¾ of journalists work in the ‘mainstream’ media of newspapers, magazines and broadcasting
- The newspaper sector employs the highest proportion of journalists at 24%
- 83% of journalists did work experience before landing their first paid job
- The proportion of journalists holding a qualification is increasing, from 64% in 2002 to 73% in 2012
(NCTJ Journalism at Work Survey 2012, released March 2013)
- 72% of journalism graduates find work 6 months after graduating
- 27% of these go on to work in arts, design, culture and sports
- 14% work in marketing, sales and advertising
Work experience-Start local and you’ll be an expert in your area! Contact editors of local newspapers, trade magazines and your radio station. A cover letter detailing what you can contribute during an internship, why you want to be a journalist and any previous experience is a great way to introduce yourself. Keep your CV short and tailored to the company that you are applying for and you’ll be on your way to picking up valuable placements.
During an internship- What happens once you’ve made it through the door and are settled at a computer in a hectic newsroom? Ask your fellow reporters when the best time would be to approach the newsdesk, and pitch some ideas based on local news and issues. Newsrooms can be intimidating, however you will find yourself fitting right in once you’ve got your teeth into a story and have a few phone numbers to chase.
Professional Qualifications- Look for an NCTJ (the National Council for the Training of Journalists) accredited journalism course, either through a fast-track course or a post-graduate MA.
Freelance journalism- Become your own business and pitch your ideas to editors. Develop a specialism, whether it is clocking street-style when you’re out in town, or keeping on top of the intricacies of student politics at university. Politeness and persistence, alongside a killer trait of strict self- discipline could lead to a successful career as a freelancer-all from the comfort of your own home.
Impact of Leveson Inquiry- After the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World, the spotlight is on trainee journalists to understand the regulations and ethics involved in working in the industry. NCTJ accredited journalism courses include a mandatory ethics module to keep you clued up when reporting.
Skills- With demand for online content causing circulation sales to fall, journalists will tackle a range of platforms throughout their career. If you can’t find yourself going an hour without checking in on Twitter or sharing a post on Facebook, utilise your knowledge of social media and get in on the act.
As a competitive industry to crack with a new challenge to tackle everyday, successful journalists should be determined, enthusiastic and creative. Whether you want to write, PR for huge festival events, broadcast on radio, or feel the buzz of a TV studio before a 6pm bulletin, start asking questions and get yourself out there!