As I’m sure you may or may not be aware by now, I am an aspiring journalist and hope to have a busy career working within the media. This week I attended a Journalism course at the university of Nottingham, run by The Workshop programme – where hopeful young journalists were given guidance by some top journalists, tv producers and magazine editors over a two-day period. It was, in fact very helpful and the kind of advice we were given I’m sure will prove to be extremely valuable when applying for jobs or training courses in the future. I was lucky enough to receive advice from Colin Hazelden (a BBC presenter), Michael Williams (Journalist for the Daily Mail and the Telegraph), David Penman (senior lecturer in journalism) and Carol Burns (a magazine editor). Not only were we each given fantastic advice and helpful contacts, but it was a great chance to network with these industry professionals and I used the chance to give away my business card wherever I could!
However, as you are probably aware – this week most certainly isn’t a great week for journalists, and a select few journalists’ actions may discourage others from entering into the chosen field. The NoW phone hacking scandal was thoroughly discussed whilst on the course, as we debated whether it could be seen as investigative journalism gone wrong, or simply immoral actions. Most agreed on the latter, as what a small number of journalists did to try and achieve some scandalous gossip was simply immoral and un-ethical, and I’m sure many of you agree. It must be horrible for those who have maintained great, successful careers at the paper, only for it to be snatched right away from under their noses, on very short notice. It is such a competitive, tough industry to enter into – so it must be heartbreaking to have to start all over again. Personally, I don’t think it has put me off a career in journalist – as I love the busy, bustling atmosphere they have to work within each and every day – and a little scandal or competition doesn’t scare me, but excites me. The closing of News of the World was the result of the immorality and stupidity of a handful of journalists (who probably don’t even work at the paper anymore, as these phone hacking attempts occurred around a decade ago).
If all of the above doesn’t put you off and you are still reading, here are my tips (well tips I gathered from the course) on how to give breaking into journalism your best shot! I’ve left a couple to myself, as I’ve said before – it’s a competitive industry (ha ha).
– Carry a business card around with you. Everyone and anyone you meet might be a possible contact for future reference. You should always let people know who you are, and make yourself known – unless of course, you are an investigative, undercover journalist working under a facade – in which case, don’t tell people who you are as it probably will defeat your objective purpose.
– Love being nosey, practice it! Journalists are people who enjoy finding out information, asking questions and being inquisitive. The more persistent, successful ones aren’t put off by a ‘no’ and you shouldn’t be either. Ask open questions that will initiate a full response.
– Build up a portfolio of work experience. When I was at an open day for Bournemouth recently, we were told that in order to apply for a course in media, you should have work experience under your belt as proof that you are genuinely interested in the field, but also pro-active. One mother (who was smothering and cuddling her child as she asked the question) asked ‘So, how do we get our children work experience?’. I could have screamed! If you cannot be pro-active and get YOURSELF work experience, emailing and phoning the HR departments of newspapers and production companies then you are already in line for failure. Be independent and do it YOURSELF!
– Research into NCTJ qualifications, as these are the exams you will need to take in order to be considered for a graduate training scheme at either a local or national newspaper. Your best bet is to enter into a course that is accredited by the NCTJ, as you can take the exams within the degree course – rather than paying extra after your degree to take them!
If you are still interested, I would really recommend visiting The Workshop website, as they offer Journalism courses over at Nottingham University, and just attending the course will look fantastic when applying for university. In journalism, it’s about setting yourself apart – so get started now, and build up contacts and a portfolio to make yourself STAND OUT!
What do you think?xx
– On an added note, The Workshop also run courses for those interested in Forensics, Criminal Law, Medicine, Veterinary , Business Management and Law – they are really helpful, so if you can get onto a course – I’d really go for it!