Tuesday, 31 January 2012

1. Read a national newspaper at LEAST twice a week – and not just the Guardian or Independent. Try the Mail and Sun as well.

Quite why this has to be stated is beyond me…the fact that it does says a lot about some of the competition (or lack of it) that trainee journalists face. In other words not a lot.

Indeed some have criticised journalismtips for being patronising - oh but I wish it was.

I decided it needed stating after talking to a second year - yes, a second year - journalism student. Having read the first draft of her copy - about a woman celebrating her 100th birthday - I asked her to re-write it into something that resembled newspaper copy.

Five drafts later and I wanted to know what newspaper she read. Her reply was actually more shocking than her copy, "The Guardian" she said with no small amount of pompousness in her voice before adding "...occasionally."

I suggested she might want to broaden her (limited) reading material to include the Daily Mail and The Sun…I may as well have asked her out on a date given the sheer revulsion that spread over her face.

Oddly enough she was unable to fulfill the rest of her week long stint of work experience, which was a relief for all concerned.

What she was doing in a newspaper office was beyond me…more worryingly, what they had been teaching her for the past 18 months was mystifying.

But she was - is - not alone.

So if you want to work in the media (any type of media not just in print) you should be reading national newspapers and not just The Guardian.

To do so is media equivalent of a dietitian only studying the nutritional make-up of muesli and no other foodstuffs on the grounds it is good for you. Yes, it might well be but a mixed diet is healthy and can be fun too.

I say a couple of times a week - I actually mean seven days a week. That's right every day - even at weekends. But, for the sake of form, twice is at least a start.

And please feel free to read the Guardian but make sure you include the Mail and the Sun and the Mirror and the Express and the Times and the Telegraph and the Independent. At £3 a pop you can skip the Financial Times (although it has a very good magazine at the weekend) unless you want to go into financial journalism.

You should be getting a feel for what makes news and the way to do that is by reading an actual newspaper. 

Don't rely on the internet that will only draw you to a few articles you are interested in. So yes, buy the newspaper.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Why Journalism Tips

Journalismtips - or more precisely @journalismtips - started life as a Twitter feed in spring last year. It has been picked up (and dropped) by a few journalism students but many who have read them have said how much they enjoyed them and how useful they have been.

So here's the blog….

It seems journalism has never been more popular - well let me rephrase that - journalism courses have never been more popular; journalists have never been more despised. Well, at least since the last general moral outcry (it is an occupational hazard).

Anyway despite finding ourselves ranking somewhere between kitten killers and, say, CEO of the RBS (a joke which will inevitably fade into obscurity in the next few months - unlike the £1m bonus) (a joke which is now already out of date since Stephen Hester gave up his bonus last night) journalism (courses) is booming…

What a pity then that there aren't hundreds - perhaps even thousands - of jobs to accommodate all these fresh faced things leaving college, NCTJ certificates in hand all ready to work for the ummm - Guardian.

So the point of this blog is to help people maximise their chances in newspaper journalism, it may help for television and online as well but it is principally about UK printed media. 

And it is very much from one person's perspective - mine. Not that I am professing to be a great journalist. In fact I would go as far as to say far from it.

But the ideas and concepts are so basic they are a start for anyone interested in setting out on a journalism career. All the complicated stuff, the wonderful turn of phrase, incisive original thought, a brilliant network of contacts - all that stuff which makes a truly great journalist isn't to be found here.

These are just a few pointers - well 297 at the last count - that might, just might, help you rise above all the others.

It is not a quick fix or easy guide….if you want easy have parents who are already in the newspaper industry. This is the hard way. Over the next few weeks and months (between sleep and going to the gym) I plan to put up journalismtips with examples and so on of what I mean.

Many (but not all) will be from my own cuttings and taken from nearly 20 years of personal experience only because they are easier to find...