Becoming a Journalist

It’s easy – all you need is to have a piece of your writing accepted by an editor and you can legitimately call yourself a journalist. You don’t need any specific qualifications, background or experience. All you need is a nose for a good story, the ability to write well and an understanding of how and where to send your writing. But don’t worry if you feel you don’t have all of these abilities – you can learn them!

How can I learn what I need to Know?
Learning what you need to know to become a successful journalist is best done with a practical course. This way, not only will you learn the theory of journalism, you’ll also get to put what you’ve learnt into practice. Some courses, like ours, also encourage you to send work off while you are studying. This is a great way to see what editors think of your work and, depending on their feedback, discuss how you can improve future submissions with your tutor.

Do you know what Journalists do?
You probably think you’ve got a good idea of what it is like to work as a freelance journalist. But, just in case you’ve missed something, have a look at the list below and see if you’ve considered all these points.

Firstly, do you know what working journalists entail? There’s no one telling you what to do, you and you alone will be responsible for your working day. This will mean you need to:
– find and write stories that editors will be thinking about.
– contact editors and work out fees for your work.
– motivate yourself to write regularly.
– meet strict deadlines.
– learn about tax and which expenses can be claimed against it.
– keep meticulous records of you have sent to editors, who are invoiced and who require chasing up.
– plan your finances to cover periods of sickness and holidays.
– work unsociable hours.
-work from home.

It seems like a lot to think about but any good, practical course should teach you about these different aspects of freelance working. By the time you’ve finished studying you should be ready to set up your own business, confident that you’ve got all the bases covered.

Have you got what it takes?
To manage everything mentioned above you need to be a specific type of person. In particular, it helps if you have the following qualities in abundance. These include:
• a love of current affairs
• a yearning to share knowledge
• a liking for meeting people
• a keen eye for detail
• excellent listening skills
• endless enthusiasm

It’ll also make your time as a journalist easier if you have the following character traits:
• a thick skin – remember not to take anything personally
• an open mind – be ready to write about whatever is relevant and current
• a sense of humor – laughter has helped ease many a difficult situation and is an excellent remedy to stress
• tenacity – fighting to find the truth is vital in this profession
• a sense of adventure – getting stuck into something you would not normally consider engaging in could result in a significant article

 

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Are Newspapers going Extinct?

So why is the newspaper industry the only one is expected to give its product … in its electronic version … away for free?

Wrestling with that question will determine the fate of this nation’s newspapers.

Our answer: except for the “Big Four” national players, newspapers will not survive unless they

1) convert out of print and totally into the Internet,
2) confine themselves to local news and, most importantly,
3) charge for it.

Are artificial intelligent software writers going to cause a mass extinction of sports writers? I fear that such a reality is just around the corner. Recently, I talked with a seasoned sports writer of 21 years, now in semi-retirement because the publication he was writing for folded and went bankrupt, who wondered if he should take a job as a writer for a smaller publication.

He said “A local community newspaper is interested in my sports articles, but only wants to pay 5 cents a word. I would have to write approximately 1500 words, to come even close to what I earned with the first newspaper. I believe I should be earning top dollar for my highly skilled writing acumen and experience. 20.9 years of writing tells me that I’m correct in my thinking.”

Well, I feel bad for all the newspaper career writers, I truly do, but writing 1500 words a day is nothing for a good reporter/newspaper article writer. Get some voice software and take the job – “No more complaining,” I thought to myself.

My thinking is this; just take the job, stop complaining and “IF” you are a good as you say, other publishers will see you and hire you for more money, and you can do either work for two or three smaller pubs, or take that great big juicy job you want later.

Personally, I see all the artificial intelligent sports algorithm writers online these days and they are getting better, but they aren’t as good as someone who knows their stuff and has experience – in my view. So that you know, I am a guy who laughs at all the complaining pathetic reporters telling me how great they are and how newbies shouldn’t be allowed to write online because it takes away their jobs.

At one time I stuck my middle finger up at all these reporters and journalists, and their attempts to close the writing sector to only those with journalism degrees and professional writing resumes. It’s a whole new world now so, either pony up or gets smashed. You are either part of the steam roller, or you are part of the pavement.

While papers have cut their editorial staffs not only to the bone but inside the bone, there’s no excuse for them not coming up with a dynamite local news website. That’s because they can reallocate the staffers who work in national or international news or other areas of the paper to the local effort. Go for it … marshal all the resources into this one specialty. Local news, local features, local business, local sports, local commentary. If necessary, use “citizen journalists” for neighborhood news. Cover the community top to bottom.

 

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