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Student summer blog: Initial pointers for other journalists-in-training

July 25th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Online Journalism, Training


Image by Wiertz Sébastien on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

This is the first of a number of features over the summer break looking at the challenges that trainee journalists face and the opportunities that may present themselves.

Danny Roberts is a sports journalism student at Leeds Trinity University College and tweets from @DannyRoberts74. In the post below and others to follow in the coming weeks he hopes to help people, through his own experiences and those of professionals, to further their study and get that little bit closer to becoming a successful journalist.

What is the most daunting thing for a student journalist? Being told that ‘it is a tough business’, ‘you may not make it’ and ‘you aren’t going to make much money’.

What I think you must do first is reject the notion that you are destined to fail. No matter what anyone tells you, if you are driven then you can get the opportunities you want and deserve. In a field that requires experience more than a degree level qualification you need to put yourself out there and experience the world. The next thing you should do is realise that you can work as a journalist now.

People train as journalists for many different reasons, many people are born into the trade with a full book of contacts, some have always wanted to write for the public, whereas others just want to follow celebrities around all day. It doesn’t matter what aspect of journalism you wish to work in, the knowledge you must have rarely differs.

The first thing I was taught about journalism was ‘read the news’. Whether you read the news online or buy a daily newspaper, it is important to know what is going on in the world around you. If you go into a job or placement interview in the future and they mention the news and you go silent, it isn’t a good first impression. It doesn’t matter if you don’t intend to go into news writing or not, being an avid reader of all things news helps you to further progress as a journalist.

Having a contact book is the next step on your way to success. It is never too early to start building relationships with people and companies from all walks of life, as you never know when you will need a quote or story from these contacts. This could be a ‘little black book’ or a huge pad, either way get them written down. You could use your phone to add these contacts to, but it is always a good idea to have a paper copy because phones can be so easily damaged or lost.

If you haven’t already, pick a specific aspect of journalism. Of course it may be good to be flexible and know a bit about each, but having a niche topic to write about will help your chances of becoming accepted and excelling as a journalist in your chosen field. To add to this idea, if you don’t have a specific field you should always remain open to different experiences and challenges as you never know what might take your fancy.

What else can you do? Start to hone your communication skills, learn to use the phone as well as email (they have to reply if you are speaking to them live), be open to rejections, read pieces by your favourite writers, don’t be afraid to ask questions, pitch ideas to editors, the list is endless.

Over the next few months, this blog will help to share experiences and offer advice and support to other trainee journalists.

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Students relaunch the Cardiffian to fill gap left by Guardian Cardiff closure

Trainee newspaper journalists from Cardiff School of Journalism have relaunched the Cardiffian, a hyperlocal.

One of those involved, Tom Rouse, explains how it is run.

The news site is staffed by trainee newspaper journalists at Cardiff School of Journalism. With 29 reporters, each assigned their own patch, we are able to cover a large part of Cardiff at a ward level and cover a depth and breadth of stories which engage with communities on their own level.

The site was originally set up for last year’s students, so our focus this year has been reviving a site which has lain dormant since April and rebuilding ties with local community groups.  This background means we have not had to build a readership from scratch, but has presented a different challenge in ensuring we offer something different from what is already out there.

Fundamentally, the Cardiffian is a news site and a chance for us to put our work in a real world setting.  The majority of our second term is dominated by our first efforts as journalists in sourcing stories and producing a paper. As this paper is produced as a training exercise it allows us to make mistakes in a safe environment. Putting our work up on the Cardiffian builds upon this by giving us an invaluable opportunity to gain feedback from readers about the stories we’re writing and understand what works when presented to an audience and what doesn’t.

But, we are hoping to make the site far more than just another source of news in Cardiff. We want to fill the niche in the local online community which was left vacant by the demise of Guardian Cardiff and act as a hub for a variety of content, not just our own.

This means a large part of our strategy revolves around making ourselves useful to communities and encouraging them to engage with the site, whether that means submitting their events to our listings page or writing a guest blog on an issue they feel passionately about. We are hoping to build a genuine two-way relationship with our readers,

Glyn Mottershead, lecturer in digital journalism at Cardiff University, said:

The key point of the site is to help our students learn about the ways in which the industry is changing, to understand content and community strategies and build a living portfolio of work.

It is also an opportunity for them to engage with groups in Cardiff and try and help them get their message out.

The first year was very much a news site, which worked well in its run and received good feedback. This year is more about involving members of the community in the site and trying to understand and support an online community that is interested in what is happening in the city around them.

The site is also a bit more of a lab than other parts of the course and gives the students the opportunity to explore ideas that may be of interest to the community and suggest changes to platforms and strategies based on genuine feedback from them.

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Does a blog still cut it for journalism students?

November 19th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Training

Following a journalism event earlier this month on blogging your way into a job, City University London journalism student Rajvir Rai takes a more reflective look at the advice given:

[I]t is clear that a few years ago a blog really set you apart from crowd, but now with a plethora of people (including many who have no desire to become professional journalists) jumping on the bandwagon, standing out to the extent that the industry recognises you is becoming increasingly difficult – if not impossible.

Unless you have stuck upon a totally unique idea it is unlikely that your blog will be the reason you get a job. Using myself as a case study, I blog about areas that interest me (sport, Asian issues and the media) and I do okay out of it, but I don’t for one minute think that a potential employer will be impressed enough with this site to offer me a job.

If simply having a blog won’t cut it anymore, how else can journalism students make themselves stand out online?

Full post at this link…

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NCTJ discusses cost-cutting measures with universities

November 3rd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Training

Directors of NCTJ-accredited university courses discussed ways to cut costs at a meeting with NCTJ management last week at the annual NCTJ undergraduate forum.

Ideas put forward included streamlining examiner training, providing additional online resources and doing more proactive block marketing of accredited courses.

The NCTJ has posted details of the discussions which took place during the meeting which focused on the impact of government cuts to higher education funding.

The forum also discussed the importance of the industry accreditation, which it claimed was “crucial for maintaining high standards and maximising employability in the face of spending reductions”.

Concerns about the impact of the education funding cuts on the journalism industry were also raised by the new  cross-media accreditation board, which met for the first time in September, with members calling for the protection of accredited courses. Following the debate which ensued Journalism.co.uk began a poll to measure ongoing opinion on the value of the NCTJ accreditation. At the time of writing the majority (47 per cent) had responded that accreditation is ‘useful but not necessary’, while 27 per cent feel it is ‘unnecessary’. The remaining 26 per cent have split evenly between viewing the accreditation as ‘essential’ and ‘in need of updating’.

You can still have your say here.

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OJR: Advice for new journalism students

August 23rd, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Jobs, Traffic

Robert Niles, writing on the Online Journalism Review site, offers five top tips for students about to embark on a journalism course at university or college in the coming weeks.

In summary, his recommendations are:

  • Don’t believe that journalism school will help you prepare for your career. Why? Because your journalism career’s already started.
  • Audience equals power for journalism job-seekers. Start building your own online straight away.
  • Your career is only as strong as your network. Follow the right people.
  • Pursue your passion, and develop expertise within it. Become an expert in a field that stirs your passion.
  • Conduct yourself as a journalist, at all times.

The overall message from Niles is for students to use the internet to make their own opportunities – “never wait for someone to hire you before starting to work”.

See the full post here…

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Long-form proves popular on new university hyperlocal site

Pilot hyperlocal news and features site Standfirst Online, run by media students at Bournemouth University, has reported a successful first few weeks – with long-form journalism proving to be a popular product on the platform.

Co-supervisor Chindu Sreedharan oversees the site, which is aimed at the university community. He told Journalism.co.uk that the platform had allowed the students to tackle online content in different ways.

Over the three editions, they managed to go beyond the inverted pyramid, and explore other forms of reportage, other forms of writing – literary journalism, for instance. Again, when you look at it, that’s quite unique – having long-form journalism in a hyperlocal venture. For our launch, we had a strong cover story in an in-depth interview with the outgoing VC Paul Curran. In Edition 2, the students put together a very strong profile of Professor John Vinney, the new VC. And for our Edition 3, we had this wonderful piece of experiential journalism from Geo Willis.

The site, which was launched as a pilot a month ago today, has received more than 6,000 page views despite its summer holiday launch period.

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#TNTJ – the return of a blog and information network for young journalists

August 4th, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted by in About us, Social media and blogging

TNTJ, or Tomorrow’s News, Tomorrow’s Journalists, was set up to provide an informal blogging network for young journalists to share their experiences of the industry and debate, discuss and dissect the issues affecting their fledgling careers.

We’re relaunching the blog network under the same criteria, but with some new features planned. Every month there will be a new question or topic up for discussion. If you join TNTJ, we’d like your views on it, but we also want you to blog on your own site too to spread the word. It’s an opportunity to make new contacts, get advice and promote yourself online – you can create a user profile for all your posts on the TNTJ site.

In addition to the monthly debates, we’ll post events, opportunities, interviews and advice that we think would interest our TNTJ members. Please feel free to do the same.

To sign up, please click ‘Register’ in the sidebar or click here to register. ANYBODY can sign-up, so long as you:

1) Are younger than 30-years-old;
2) And you blog about journalism/are interested in taking part in an online discussion about journalism.

Enter your details, and soon we’ll activate your account so you can post your entry. Bear with us while we do that – it’s not an automated process, but we’ll be quick as we can.

The revamped TNTJ will be moderated by a team of young journalists, who we’ll be introducing shortly along with a question for August. You can also follow the blog on Twitter, @TNTJ.

Let’s get blogging!

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Brian Manzullo: Three dares to journalism students

July 20th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Editors' pick, Training

Young US journalist Brian Manzullo lays down three challenges to journalism students and those leaving training for the big, bad world:

1. Propose major curriculum adjustments to your journalism school – and get support;
2. Form a news start-up online and compete with the student newspaper;
3. Form a network of students that meets regularly to discuss readings and projects.

Why? Journalists need to make the most of their pre-professional experience, says Manzullo.

This industry needs more bold thinkers and innovators, and it really does start from the ground up. In school.

Full post on Brian Manzullo’s website at this link…

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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – be part of BBC’s Newswatch

May 25th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

Journalism students: Get yourselves on BBC’s Newswatch, which asks for media contributions and stories at this link, and also offers the opportunity to see behind the scenes of the programme. Tipster: Judith Townend.

To submit a tip to Journalism.co.uk, use this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – support for NCTJ students

May 14th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

Training: If you’re a student on a NCTJ course, check out this unofficial NCTJ student support group for exams on Facebook. Tipster: Laura Oliver.

To submit a tip to Journalism.co.uk, use this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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