Careers in Journalism

  blad1 10:12 29 May 2007
Locked

Hiya,

I know some people here work in the trade and I was just seeking some advice on gaining employment in Journalism (specifically tech/gaming related magazines). Currently I'm a Planning Consultant, I have a BA and I am soon to be taking an MA- in Town and Country Planning. The thing is, I'm really getting interested in Journalism, and I am intensely interested in videogames and videogame culture. So, a few questions really, what qualifications are generally needed for junior / assistant writers? What courses or methods can I take to gain the appropriate qualifications (any evening / open university courses)? What other activities can I take to improve my experience and make myself more attractive to employers (community involvement / blogging reviews)? Obviously this isn't going to happen overnight, I have just been thinking about it and I want to explore what steps I can take. Any advice gratefully received.

  Kate B 10:43 29 May 2007

It's less about qualifications, though if you're a graduate I'd suggest you do a postgrad course: Cardiff is widely held to be among the best. It's more about luck, contacts and persistence.

I'd suggest you approach your local paper and offer to write for them on a freelance basis - suggest you do something like game reviews for them if they don't already do them. Ask if you can do work experience there, and at your local BBC radio station if there is one.

Publishing on the web is one thing, but what really counts is where your stuff is published. I suppose a really elegant blog would not count against you, but random bits of writing for websites that nobody's heard of won't help you. If you managed to get stuff on a mainstream website that would help.

Have a look at the NUJ website which should have some links worth reading.

  BryanR 11:27 29 May 2007

"Publishing on the web is one thing, but what really counts is where your stuff is published."

Like the PC Advisor site? or maybe the Guardian?

  Kate B 11:30 29 May 2007

Or indeed any website associated with a mainstream publisher :)

  wee eddie 14:10 29 May 2007

There are almost as many aspiring Journalists as there are aspiring Actors and work is just about as hard to get.

  Kate B 14:21 29 May 2007

Yes, it's a competitive field and sadly for those wanting to make a start in it, it depends as much on who you know as what you know.

Best advice is to get some work experience and learn to sub. If you can sub, there's always work, though it's not particularly glamorous work. It can, however, be hugely satisfying.

  simonjary 14:28 29 May 2007

Get in touch with PC Advisor editor Paul Trotter, and maybe we could arrange some work experience for you, or even trial a blog here.

Paul's details are in the Contact section.


Simon Jary
Publisher

  Cymro. 16:00 29 May 2007

I am rather surprised that the F.E. has not already come in on this one,

I dare say he will before the end of the day.

  Forum Editor 17:14 29 May 2007

Cymro.

And here he is.

Don't expect to make your fortune in journalism unless you are very, very good. Kate's advice is sound - she knows what she's talking about, and I particularly agree with the advice about learning to sub. Lots of people fancy themselves as writers, but it's not as easy as it looks, and at times it can be daunting - staring at a blank screen for hours, waiting for that first sentence to appear isn't altogether a bundle of laughs. You'll need a reasonable command of the English language and grammar by the way; don't expect to be employed if you can't string a sentence together.

When I first started writing I used to submit ideas to various magazine editors, and gradually I began to get commissions. Most periodicals will send you writing guides if you ask them, and there's no substitute for actually reading the publication - do it before you submit anything, editors can get tetchy if they see that you haven't bothered to research the sort of thing they look for.

There's no substitute for being published - you'll find it easier to get started with editors if you can point to something that has appeared in print. It's a bit of a chicken and egg story, but persevere - if you're any good you'll get work.

  Kate B 18:04 29 May 2007

Subbing also will hone your own writing skills. A good writer is a good sub, and vice versa, I've always found.

If you're pitching to a publication, make sure you know who you're pitching to. If you've got an idea for a feature, find out who the features editor is. A pitch addressed to "the features editor" will probably go in the bin; and it will definitely go in the bin if it's addressed to the previous incumbent.

And I can't emphasise Peter's advice strongly enough: read the publication. There's nothing more annoying than someone ringing up and saying, for example, "What day do you run DVD reviews on?" when you don't even do DVD reviews.

  sunny staines 18:53 29 May 2007

start with local papers free lance or voluntry stuff. get experience then try the guardian, from then onto the other national papers.

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