Do you have to have a specialism in journalism to get ahead? The Intern argues it’s important not to be one dimensional
This is a topic I have pondered about for a while. I had a conversation with a journalist about having a specialism; she thought it was better to stick to one thing. However, she did say she started out in fashion & beauty and now is set firmly in real life journalism. Interesting. So is it really better to pin yourself down to one set choice? Or is it better to be an all rounder?
I think you should be open to all types and topics of journalism. Given the tough job market at the moment you cannot afford to be picky. As some of you may know, from reading my posts, I have just started a job at a publishing company. So far I have assisted on Olympic magazines (I hate sport) and a magazine about Dubai (I’ve never been to Dubai.) But while these may not be naturally be my favourite topics I do enjoy helping to produce them editorially. Writing captions, proof reading and researching I find myself learning about new topics that interest me. Be it finding out how the Olympics “goes beyond sport” to help third world countries and communities, to exotic islands with unusual animals that I’ve never even heard of before, there’s always something challenging to get to grips with.
Don’t get me wrong; if you’re an expert on a particular topic then go for it. There is nothing like reading an article by someone who really knows what they’re talking about.
But I would suggest to Wannabe’s to not let your specialism to hold you back when applying for jobs. Don’t be like; well I only like fashion so that’s all I’m going to even look at. What I found is, particularly with fashion, that if you want to go into a specific form of journalism you have to narrow your choices early on. That may mean studying a fashion related journalism course or only undertaking fashion placements. If you go down that route the benefit is that it may be easier to pin down a job in the specific area of your choice.
I find I’m quite enjoying not having a specialism. You see I’m quite a contradiction, while I love watching pure car crash television like Made In Chelsea and The Only Way Is Essex, I find myself getting riled up by debates like Question Time and long winded political articles concerning the unemployment crisis.
My personal heroine (of the journalism world) Rosamind Urwin doesn’t stick to one particular specialism. She writes about ‘frothy’ fashion (I hate how ‘serious’ journalists compartmentalise fashion as frothy) and in contrast is also a resident of the City desk reporting on hard hitting financial affairs. She has the best of both worlds, beauty and brains.
Personally I think if you love to write, then surely you can turn your hand to any given topic. Provided you have researched the topic well and know what you are talking about, your writing style should see you through. I think my writing style is lighthearted and expressive, suited to feature pieces like those in a magazine.
But again, I wouldn’t narrow my writing to a specific platform in journalism. Sure, I would prefer to work in magazines but with the growth of online media rapidly taking over print you can never be too one dimensional in this forever changing world. Anyhow, equipping yourself with the skills of CMS and SEO would be a bonus to a magazine employer as nowadays most have their own website which require staff to upload their own stories to the specific site.
So, in conclusion my point is: as a journalist try not to be one dimensional. Sure, have an interest and know what type of journalism you would ideally like to go into. But don’t let it hold you back when applying for jobs, you may end up enjoying writing about…health for example. Before my first internship at Wahanda the thought of health as a topic did not exactly thrill me. But I found myself enthralled, writing blogs and learning about quirky health and fitness facts.
So what do you think Wannabe Hacks? Have you found having a specialism has got you ahead of the pack? Or do you enjoy the freedom and choice to write about a variety of topics? As always, let us know your thoughts @Wannabehacks or by commenting below!
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look