Career In Journalism, Where to begin?
You’re reading this because you think you’d like to be a journalist? Is it because you’re inquisitive and gossipy, you like finding out what’s going on and telling people all about it? Or you want to talk truth to power and protect our democracy by exposing the wickedness of those in power over us? No? You just want to meet celebrities and go to fashion parties and get paid to be at big sports events? That’s fine too. If you answer “yes” to any of the above, there’s a place for you somewhere in the media. Here’s a job that can be demanding, exciting, entertaining, unpredictable, dangerous, mischievous, fulfilling and – at its most serious – important.”
Kim Fletcher, chairman, NCTJ
Whether you’re looking to write for your local paper, interview people from around the world or want to broadcast over the air waves there’s one thing every journalist – print, broadcast and online – needs to be, a jack of all trades.
The last generation of journalists didn’t have to worry about click targets, photoshopped hoaxes or the 24-hour news cycle. Today, you need to be able to write solid copy, shoot a video with your phone, tweet about it and file it, all without even stepping into the office.
This, of course, isn’t true for every journalist but digital skills are more important than ever before. One of the best ways to ensure you have those skills is to just try them out yourself. Start a blog, open a YouTube channel and head out to your local events. Talk to everyone and start building up your contacts, one day they’ll be your best source of stories.
Once you’re sure this is the career for you, you need to get your first-hand knowledge backed up with formal training. Whether it’s an apprenticeship, undergraduate or postgraduate degree, a fast-track course or an ‘earn while you learn’ scheme, make sure the course is accredited by the NCTJ. If you have an NCTJ qualification, editors know you’ve had the right legal, ethical and writing skills training to make the leap from classroom to newsroom.
The cost of training can be expensive, however the industry has banded together to create the Journalism Diversity Fund, a bursary scheme that helps people from a variety of backgrounds afford the training they need to get into work.
For more information about the NCTJ, Journalism Diversity Fund and the industry at large read our ‘How to be a Journalist 2015/16’ guide available here.