An experienced and well-respected journalist told me a journalist never stops learning, so this piece is for everyone; from aspiring students to old-hand hacks.
Every journalist knows the importance of a Twitter account. Where fifteen years ago there was the barrier of phone books to trawl through and PRs to persuade, there is now instant access to news, celebrities and journalists at the click of a mouse.
For some, the overload of jargon; tweets, trends, hashtags is a bit too much to take in at first, but it’s worth getting your head around. I decided to use Twitter to my advantage and gather some top tips from top journalists, while networking and gaining followers at the same time.
“Be agile, creative and interested. Network on and offline.” @egrommet
Michael Taggart, former national newspaper hack turned blogger, and Head of Digital and Social at PR Company MRM said: “There are three types of journalist – brilliant, lucky and poor. None start the former and all start the latter.” It’s evident that if journalists want to succeed, they have to start at the bottom.
Richard Morris, a journalist from Sussex said: “Pick a different career! Or make sure you make you CV stand out with work experience and blogs etc.” For those still on board, the prevailing message from journalists was make sure that your CV is accurate and that you get writing and get as much experience as possible.
George Hopkin, a journalist based in Dubai who is a whizz on all things digital, suggested that you create your own opportunities and also: “Set up a tumblr and curate news/links for the beat or sector in which you’d like to score a gig.”
Richard Kendall, web editor for Peterborough Evening Telegraph said: “I’d say, look online at local, national, global publishers: plenty of examples of new methods of communicating, storytelling.”
There is a new way of communicating born each day and most of the online tools are very simple to use and can connect through your Twitter or Facebook.
Laura Oliver, community coordinator of news for Guardian.co.uk said: “Experiment (lots) with how you tell stories now (tools, media, format) and find out where your strengths and interests lie.”
Make the most of free digital tools to get yr journalism out there.” @JTownend
Try Storify or tumblr to get you started.
Joanna Geary, Communities Editor, for The Times (now at the Guardian) said “Experiment! (Even if the results aren’t great first time)”
A real buzz word in answers was one we are all familiar with – network. Hannah Swindon, journalist and sub-editor from Brighton said “Network furiously. You’ll either get good advice, a great story or gain a friend.”
Sarah Booker, acting web editor for The Argus and social media buff, said: “Network, listen and teach yourself new tricks. Build contacts and be willing to learn as much as possible.”
There was a tip of what to do once you’ve got the contacts from Richard Godwin, Evening Standard columnist and Evening Standard Magazine contributing editor, who said: “Ask the rude questions but remain respectful; don’t show off; be as clear as you can; and your secret weapon is kindness.”
“Never take no for an answer and be persistent, always.” @alice_emily
Of course, there were several answers relating to writing and style with freelance writer and author Roxy Freeman explained: “Write for a reason: Make sure you know the purpose of your piece before you put pen to paper.”
“Find your own voice and keep writing, the more the better.” @LaLuminata
Stop aspiring and start writing was the prevailing message from freelance business journalist and author of ‘This is Social Media, Guy Clapperton, who said: “Stop aspiring and write – get your first commission as quickly as possible so you can say you’re a journalist.”
“Write with passion. Care about the truth.” @russbravo
“Be curious, build your brand, follow your passion, network, spellcheck ” @suellewellyn
My favourite tweet came from ‘Gaz the Journo,’ editor of The West Londoner, who said: “learn to drink until sunrise without showing the effects. (or buy a Dictaphone!)”
Luckily I have a Dictaphone, maybe it’s time for anyone who hasn’t to invest in one!
Finally Jon Slattery, freelance journalist said: “Listen and learn from those journalists who are more experienced than you but stay true to yourself and don’t get too cynical.”
Twitter is excellent in terms of journalism in the way it is the perfect practice for cutting out unnecessary words and being concise.
Thank you to all the journalists who tweeted me some very helpful advice.
Becky also put her findings into a very lovely Storify, have a look at it here.
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look