Starting a Career in Journalism
You may have already decided on a style that interests you but whether you are into Gonzo journalism or reporting news, most journalists start from ground zero and build themselves and their reputation up from there. No matter what style you chose in the end there are some important things to remember in order to get your work noticed.
There are certain traits a budding journalist will already need to have when embarking on a career in journalism. A good journalist must have; a keen interest in people, an inquisitive nature, ability to meet deadlines and outstanding communication skills. Basically, if you are not interested in what people have to say, their emotions and their achievements you simply can not function as a journalist.
Take up a part time course
I have met many people who have found taking an evening or at home journalism course very helpful. They won’t teach you all you possibly need to know but they give you a good base to start with. You can find courses like this at most local colleges that run during the year or even shorter courses for ten weeks at a time. Online journalism schools especially offer an array of courses which are more specialized such as sports journalism, community journalism, photo journalism, feature articles, conducting interviews, shorthand and many more. It will give you a base to start gaining experience which all journalists need. You never know, it might open doors to other things!
Cross your T’s and dot your I’s!
I really can not stress enough the importance of spelling, punctuation and grammar. Sending off work that has not been spell checked or edited will only look bad on you and will tarnish your reputation. An editor might think you have a good story, but they do not have time to correct mistakes as they have deadlines too. An important tip to remember is to never not proof read your own work and to double check over and over!
Read and write whenever you get the chance
Try to read whatever you can get your hands on. It is important for a journalist to keep up to date and analyse other styles that are out there. This will also help you develop a good news sense. It is a good tip from early on to archive clippings of any articles you have written, as you might need to fall back on them later.
Try and read and rewrite smaller articles as much as you can. This is a good habit to pick up to keep you in the ‘write’ frame of mind. I find it helps before writing anything as the words seems to flow more.
When I first started writing as a freelance journalist the only way I could really publicize myself was to write for free for a local community newspaper. Free jobs like these I feel is where the most experience is gained as you get the chance to strengthen your style and build up the speed in which you can produce a good article. It will give you a good opportunity to build up relationships with editors and get to know good contacts.
There are also many different outlets out there that you can use to advertise your work. The internet is one of the best for this. You can also start your own website, blog, ghost write… There are many websites that offer new and experienced writers places to showcase their work. With the internet especially, there are no limits to what you can do!