Journalism: Breaking In

Author:
Publish date:

There’s
also a glorious upside: seeing your first 1A story, building
impenetrable staff camaraderie with your “war” buddies, getting paid to
write and edit regularly, seeing readers take an interest in your work,
knowing you didn’t get a job in mathematics. Journalism can
either be your worst nightmare or your best friend. For many
professionals, it’s both. As one writer here put it, “Basically if you
want to go into journalism you have to look at it as a calling. … you
have to do it because you love it, and live it, or else it’s not for
you.”My advice? If you’re just starting out and you don’t have
any strong connections or solid clips, start small. Try a newspaper, a
routine launching pad for scores of media professionals and authors
(including greats like Ernest Hemingway and Kurt Vonnegut). For me, a
jaunt out to a small rural daily was an ideal place to quickly learn
the trade. Not only was it a journalism boot camp, but it also provided
a rare opportunity to experience everything in the profession at once,
from basic reporting and photography to advancement in bigger beats (in
newspaper jargon, beats are basically your hallowed turf, such as the
police or county government beat). If you work hard, lose a little
sleep, get all your facts right and build some solid clips, often you
can be out and on your way to a bigger publication in a year. As
for the college degree, it may not be necessary at every publication,
but it definitely helps. A quick glance at the reporter hub
JournalismJobs.com affirms that most places require a journalism or
mass communications credential as a prerequisite. If you’re in a
college journalism program, embrace internships, write for the school
paper and seek out some freelance opportunities. If you’re not
enrolled, do everything you can for starter clips, experience and
connections: Write for free, network and talk to professionals to gain
an understanding of the industry. When it comes to that first
journalism gig, these are the things publications will be looking
for—and it just might prevent you from having to move out to the middle
of nowhere.

Hi Writers,
To
follow up on my last post about landing a journalism career, I asked
our newly hired managing editor, Zac Petit—who graduated from J-school
three years ago—to share his thoughts.

Here's Zac:
Ahh,
journalism—long hours, low pay, shrinking newsrooms, coffee overdoses,
sadistic deadlines, weekends spent covering garage sales boasting
glamorous taglines such as “world’s largest.” But don’t fret.

Yeah, journalism is hard. But when you talk to
media professionals who have stayed the course, they’re likely to
begrudgingly admit that it was well worth it—even if they did have to
cover the occasional “World’s Largest Garage Sale” once or twice in
their early days.

Zac will be contributing to The Writer's Perspective from time to time, so please welcome him. Also, feel free to post any comments or questions for him here.

Keep Writing,
Maria

From Script

Approaching Comedy from a Personal Perspective and Tapping into Your Unique Writer’s Voice (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, interviews with masters of comedy, screenwriter Tim Long ('The Simpsons') and writer-director Dan Mazer (Borat Subsequent Movie) about their collaboration on their film 'The Exchange', and filmmaker Trent O’Donnell on his new film 'Ride the Eagle' co-written with actor Jake Johnson ('New Girl'). Plus, tips on how to tap into your unique voice and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Accepting Feedback on Your Writing

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not accepting feedback on your writing.

Writer's Digest Best Creativity Websites 2021

Writer's Digest Best Creativity Websites 2021

Here are the top creativity websites as identified in the 23rd Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Poetic Forms

Englyn Proest Dalgron: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the englyn proest dalgron, a Welsh quatrain form.

What Is a Palindrome in Writing?

What Is a Palindrome in Writing?

In this post, we look at what a palindrome is when it comes to writing, including several examples of palindromes.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Set a Trap

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Set a Trap

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, it's time to set a trap.

5 Ways to Add a Refrain to Your Picture Books (and Why You Should)

5 Ways to Add a Refrain to Your Picture Books (and Why You Should)

Children's author Christine Evans shares how repetition is good for growing readers and gives you the tools to write your story's perfect refrain.

From Our Readers

Describe the First Time a Book Transported You to Another/Magical World: From Our Readers (Comment for a Chance at Publication)

This post announces our latest From Our Readers ask: Describe the First Time a Book Transported You to Another/Magical World. Comment for a chance at publication in a future issue of Writer's Digest.

About Us: How to Handle Your Story That Involves Other People

About Us: How to Handle Your Story That Involves Other People

Your story belongs to you but will involve other people. Where do your rights end and theirs begin?