Being a Journalist is Typing with One Hand, Whilst Consuming Coffee with Another

Good afternoon young readers on their lunch break. I know that most people trawl the internet whilst they’re munching a collapsed sandwich in one hand, and the computer mouse clasped in the other. Well, here is something else for you to get your teeth into.

Now, before you get too excited, I am afraid I’m not informing you about how to win the lottery, how to live longer or how to become irresistible to all men (however, these are pretty good ideas, so I’ll see if I can come up with a story for them at a later date) but, instead, I am going to tell you some of the things I have learnt about being a journalism student.

IN BRIEF: 1) Always a good place to start. Keep it straight and to the point. No one likes gabble in news (which is possibly why it’s not my forte…) The word “local” is never necessary in newspapers (it’s a local paper, so you’re reporting on local things and local people…duh) 2) You will need a lot of dexterity and mental memory space to get the hang of Teeline shorthand, which often just feels like writing wingdings and will inevitably destroy your well-mastered longhand orthography. 3) You will realise that there are many media laws and ethical guidelines to follow. Yet some people will still automatically go “Eurgh, a journo. Lock ‘em up and throw away the key!” But we do try our best to abide by these laws so that you trust us. We are humans really (well, just. Once you become a journalist you virtually are the personification of caffeine brewed slowly with Jekyll and Hyde) 4) Nothing you want to say will ever fit in headline spaces, and nibs will soon get on your nerves (as will clichés, like that one…cos you can’t use them either, and what you can use makes you realise how little your noggin knows about what it’s saying) In fact, pretty much everything you do will be wrong, and anything you can do that’s right is probably a bit crap. BUT, fear not aspiring writers! All hope is not lost! Read on.

THE HAPPY BITS: 1) You learn how to make an ace cuppa through so much practice. 2) A microwave becomes your new best friend at lunch time. 3) Suddenly five o’clock doesn’t seem that far away. 4) It is a great way to get an expanding derriere (okay, not always a positive. But Kim Kardashian, eat your heart out!) 5) There must be more…well, you always meet some fabulous people, go to interesting places and there’s never nothing to do! 6) You become a big buzz ball of energy, and your mind is always on the go. 7) It can be a little tiring (a lot tiring don’t lie) but I guess, in spite of frustrations and peeing more than usual from tea inundation, it’s a good place to be.

So, stop thinking about journalism and go for it! And the best rule I can give you to follow for success? Just do it right.

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