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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