At some point in our lives, most of us have likely entertained the dream of becoming a journalist and having your name printed all over glossy magazines. For some people, that dream became a reality, but for others it was a lot harder than expected. For Careers Week at London South Bank University, Ella Donaldson takes a look at a few of the avenues available for aspiring journalists.
According to research done in October 2016, there were over 300 million active bloggers on Tumblr and 45% of marketers say blogging is the #1 most important piece of their content strategy. We have made you a fabulous guide on some of the skills that can help get you into journalism!
A university education: Can an undergraduate degree provide all of the skills needed? We spoke to Chris Wheal, freelance journalist and lecturer at the London School of Journalism: “The problem is that many universities run courses without enough practical journalism skills and there are three different (but similar) accreditation bodies. Many courses are not accredited – some of which are still good.” Similarly, journalism course director at LSBU, Laura-Jane Filotrani says: “A degree of any kind is important for a perspective journalist because you need to be somebody who is a critical thinker, who is able to question, that is well read, that is able to talk to a number of people, that is good at socialising, networking and building contacts. All of those kinds of things you learn at university, on any kind of degree. You get a real taste and believe me, sometimes it’s a good idea to come and try before you decide that that’s what you want to do because people do come and when they start doing journalism they realise it’s not actually for them, they don’t want to go out and get stories and until you do it you don’t really know that, so there are a number of reasons.”
Self-motivation: Regardless of your education level, you need to have the right attitude! According to John Greenwood, editor of the Financial Times and journalist: “Drive and commitment are more important than having a degree or experience. If you have the right enthusiasm you’ll get anywhere; it’s so pleasing to see someone with drive rather than a degree in the subject. I don’t see those with degrees in journalism doing any better than I did. Drive and commitment are as important as anything once the basics are in place.”
Developing your interests: As well as possessing the technical skills, you have got to be interested in surrounding subjects. It’s helpful to have an insight into similar specialities such as photography, art and film-making. Nick Barlay, author and journalist said: “Having associated skills enables the person to then be self sufficient. There are still ‘traditional’ routes into journalism via accredited courses and then finding work on a local newspaper. Given all the changes that have taken place because of the internet, as well as fewer jobs in journalism, it’s worth developing a specialism, at the same time as developing an online profile. In other words, these days a writer can provide much more than ever before, including material that staff journalists might not be able to access. Everyone is now a citizen journalist.”
Work experience: Have you thought about post-graduate schemes/internships? Specific magazines and newspapers such as The Guardian and Nightmare Magazine offer schemes for students who have just finished their degree who want to get into the industry. Post-graduate statistics show that Newcastle is the best university to get into for post graduate schemes in Journalism. Internships also tend to be a great way in, they tend to be a much longer period of time supposed to work experience and are great for building your CV!
If you had some doubts about your career choice, we hope our top tips for getting into journalism helped you choose the right route!