Top 10 Things Every Journalism Student Needs to Know

By Lawrence Lease on February 12, 2018

If you are considering becoming a journalist when you graduate college, there are a few things you should know that will give you an edge and the best chance of landing a job in the journalism field. You’re not going to make it as a journalist if you simply rely on attending classes and getting good grades. These are 10 tips that are all-important for any journalism student.



1. Do more than just attend class

Attending class with not cut it, you need to start a blog, podcast and tweet. Build up your online presence. Remember you are competing for jobs against thousands of fellow journalism students. Find a niche that you can focus on and spin it to make it uniquely yours.

2. Get as much work experience as you can

Start writing online, sometimes this will turn into paid work, often it won’t. There are several online websites that allow you to write for them on any topic including Uloop, Hubpages and Blasting News. If you are a sports fan, consider writing for Fan Sided.

3. Contacts, contacts, contacts.

And that doesn’t mean just having a contact book. Connect with people via Twitter, engage online and get your name known within the subject area you’re interested in. It’s never been easier to do this so take advantage of social networking.

4. Question everything.

Develop an analytical brain. Learn how to spot a hoax press release, question figures and consider all the angles.

5. Be versatile.

Learn to shoot video, be able to turn your hand to editing audio, get to grips with data journalism, make sure you get 100wpm shorthand, know your way around Photoshop. Journalism is not just about a notebook and pen but tools such as apps and your smartphone, Dipity, Storify and Audioboo, to name but a few. For an example of a journalism graduate who has excelled at video production and editing, click here.

6. Write, write, blog.

If you’re an aspiring broadcast journalist learn how to podcast but anyone starting out should create a blog. If you don’t have a particular area of journalism you want to go into, pick a subject you are interested in and write about that. Follow others writing about that subject (see next point).

7. Hone your research skills and build up sources.

Work on creating a network of contacts in Delicious, set up RSS feeds to follow subject areas that interest you, keep an eye on LinkedIn company pages. For example, if you are interested in fashion journalism, keep an eye on who is leaving and joining fashion houses listed on LinkedIn. Set up alerts to receive the accounts of these firms from Companies House. Publish the stories on your blog and pitch them to news desks.

8. Get published.

When you find a really strong original story, pitch it to a news desk, ask for a byline and negotiate a fee.

9. Build your brand.

Your name is your brand so consider a Facebook page and create an online portfolio. If you’re thinking “I’m not the kind of person who says look at me”, get over that. You have to get your name out there.

10. Don’t give up at the first hurdle.

You’re not going to have a great voice for broadcast or get your first pitch accepted by a magazine or national newspaper. When someone knocks you down, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and keep trying.

Born and raised in Wasilla, Alaska. I am citizen journalist and looking to find a official paying journalism job somewhere in the country. I enjoy watching TV, reading books and traveling.

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