My girlfriend has just finished a BA in European Studies and is looking to get into a career in journalism. She has applied to do a diploma in journalism in UCD from October but she is still unsure if its the best way to get into the industry. Could anyone offer any tips on how to begin working in journalism??
I am not a journalist. From what I've gathered though, she should write. Write loads. For free. For anybody who'll publish it. College papers, local rags, fanzines. Write letters to editors...anything the hell to get your name out there.
At worst you get loads of practise developing a style of writing and build up a portfolio. Get lucky and somebody looking for a hack may look her up. From what I see in Ireland, it's a very exclusive club to break into...DCU have a undergrand and postgrad journalist course, as do, you say, UCD. That's a lot of people coming out in any one year and trying to get 'in the door'
Her writing style being better than anybody elses is what'll get her noticed...
Thats what I gathered as well, just get stuff out there and hope for a break, its just a the moment she is still trying to develop her writing skills(hence the diploma) from college essay to newspaper article. Now, I've read what she has written and its pretty good stuff(a bit rough around the edges, but to be expected), its just she has no specific field she would be interested in(news journalism would be her ideal job). Would working for a media company in another position help her chances??
She's probably best trying for a postgrad in DIT or DCU. Unfortunately. journalism is becoming increasingly gentrified and part of that is the increased reliance on these courses. Many job ads now state that people need a third level qualification in the field. Don't know much about the UCD course. I think I may have met a fella who taught on it a while back. If memory serves me correctly, it is a part time, night course. That probably wouldn't be the best road to take. Advise her to do one of the full time courses, above. Then she's just going to have to work her head off.
Well she has a BA in Euro Studies, which is a very broad ranging course(History, politics and social studies) so it covers a lot of bases. She just needs a course to help her with the art of journalism. Where is the best place to find out about jobs in the industry, papers, internet, contacts in the industry?????
It's not that simple, I'm afraid. She shouldn't be under any illusions that she'll walk into a job after a night course and a degree in European Studies. Practically every journalist has a degree now and most have a journalism qualification. So she'll be up against it. The fact that the UCD course isn't very well known in the business shows it isn't highly regarded. I know nothing about other jobs, but in journalism you can't really use contacts to land a job if you have no experience and qualifications. But there is an Irish media directory. I think its details are elsewhere on this board.
I have a BA in journalism. With your gfs degree in European studies, she needs to see if she can cultivate any contacts on whatever course she takes with a view to developing specialist knowledge in a subject that she might then be able to offer.
The UCD course might not be that well known, but it cant be worse than any other really. Make sure she does her best to get to know her lecturers who might be able to help with some contacts for a work experience placement.
I took the initiative to do some writing and reporting of my own for my student magazine website when I was at uni. She needs to keep an eye out for talks, meetings or events that she can go along to and write a report or feature on, where she might get to interview interesting people.
There is a website www.greatreporter.com run by an ex-student from my uni where, if she gets something that might be an exclusive, they will help her get it published and take a commission.
Journalism is a very competitive business - I have to work in a business role to help pay the bills most of the time. If you are lucky enough to get a break in the right place at the right time, you might get on the ladder. If not you can have to realise that you might not be able to earn a living from it and look at other ways in or other jobs instead. I currently research and write part-time for an NGO and am hoping this might be a helpful path to something journalistic. However I am only earning expenses and a small fee for my work.
Freelance, do freebies for websites, small mags etc. anything you can. just get yourself out there, make yourself known and make contacts who in time lead to paying jobs.
That's what I'm currently in the process of doing.
First, she should get a copy of the current Writers and Artists yearbook. It's about €25 from Easons and a goldmine for any budding writer/journalist.
Secondly, she should decide what type of journalism that she'd like to do. Current afairs? Lifestyle? Politics? etc. She needs to have a focus.
Thirdly, she should build up a portfolio by submitting to UK based publications. Starting off in Ireland is hell, journalism is as good as a closed-shop here. In the UK there are tons of publications crying out for content. Just look at the size of your average UK Sunday newspaper. She might consider doing something with a 'Irish' slant for a UK publication.
Again, I'll say, with journalism in this country, it's almost a closed-shop. I know a couple of editors and subs who basically scraped their LC, but had the right contacts when starting off, and I'm talking about the early 1990's!
I also know one guy who scraped his Inter Cert but thanks to family connections worked for two years as a proof reader for a *very* well known and *very* prestigious Irish Daily broadsheet. Most similar UK publications would require that you had an Oxbridge BA in English for the same position.
The traditional way in is to get a job with your local paper.
Writing style isn't as important in journalism as reporting ability, by the way.
If she hasn't got a local paper, she could get experience, contacts and the start of a portfolio by writing advertising features. Most newspapers have 'commercial features', where they run a couple of pages or a pull-out section on something like buying a new computer, back-to-school issues, choosing the best school, science in industry, etc.
These are usually written by a mix of superfast freelances and new kids. Phone the advertising manager of any of the papers and ask who runs the commercial features section and ask them if they have any writing gigs.
Some people will sneer at this work - but if you look back through the old issues of newspapers you'll find that plenty of reporters started their work life doing them and then went on to reporting.
She can earn a bit of side cash doing these, and when she's ready to move to bigger things she can talk to the commercial features editor and say she'd really like to do some reporting for the main paper, and who should she contact. Normally, her original editor will give her a leg up into the main section then.
About 40 students graduate from the DCU journalism course each year. So the Irish media market including the PR industry, cannot absorb that number.
My impression - right or wrong - is that journalism courses do not cut much ice compared with a passion for a particular subject coupled with objectivity and a good writing style, including a command of basic grammer including understanding such banal issues as the rules applying to the collective noun
(Remember that joke that won a competition as the best example of American humour:
Texan: "Where do you come you from?"
Harvard graduate: "I come from a place where we do not end our sentences with a preposition."
Texan: "OK, where do you come from, jackass?" )
Some of the best reporting worldwide is done by brave freelancers who gain attention for an issue long before well-paid broadcast journalists appear with their retinue. For example, just because we hear nothing now from Darfur doesn't mean that the 2m Africans who were driven from their homes are in clover.
a friend of mine got a job through work experience..... don't just do a week or two..... keep doing the work experience......it gives them a chance to see that you are dedicated.... which is always a good thing.....it may take a few months... some its even taken years..... but eventually it may help....
What do you do now?
Am trying to move back in the journalistic / writing direction as business not going superbly...I am currently considering how exactly to do this...
I've been thinking about my earlier posts on this and I think I was wrong. There are of course plenty of ways of getting into journalism. I suppose that's the beauty of it, there are so many different types of journalism, from fatures to subbing to TV to being a reporter. There are bound to be plenty of ways in. I suppose I was slightly blinkered because I'm a hard news reporter and you do need certain skills, and experiences, for that. Some other aspects of journalism clearly need different skills and experiences. But whoever said about doing ad features is correct. If you want to get into journalism desperately enough, you will succeed. Just look at the Sunday Indo, for example, most of the people who work on that have never done a day's reporting in their lives. It's a really, really broad church.