Journalism is such a wide and varied field. There are so many ways to be a journalist today that it can seem like a very overwhelming and daunting career to get into. How do you know what topic or topics you want to specialize in? How do you write in a professional way that still conveys your own unique tone and style? Most importantly, What do you do once you’ve got your foot in the door? I have taken the time to scour the internet and other resources to find the best advice for beginners looking to start a career in journalism and have written them down here just for you!
Below you will find the top five tips that will help you get started!
Tip #1: Utilize The Inverted Pyramid
An inverted pyramid is a writing tool that will help you capture your audience every single time. When you write a journalism piece you start with the most important information, most commonly known as “The Five W’s” (a.k.a who, what, when, where, and why). Then you give the secondary or supporting details of the story, and finally the background information that isn’t as important but adds a little extra something to the story. By using this structure you provide your reader with the things they really want to know first, and the extra stuff later.
Tip #2: Use Clear and Efficient Language
When people are reading news stories they are looking for the facts, not flowery or excessive language. Do they want an interesting angle? Of course, but don’t mistake drawn-out sentences and unbridled detailing as interesting. When writing these stories try to keep your sentences to a max of 20-30 words and no more than 3-4 lines per paragraph. That may seem short when you are writing your piece, but most if not all stories are printed electronically now and no one is going to read a solid block of text on their smartphone.
Tip #3: Find Your Own Angle
It is important to show that you can look at a story that other people are also writing about and find a unique well to tell it. They may seem very hard, but an easy way to start thinking outside of the box when it comes to storytelling is to read articles from whatever news source you frequently turn to and then think about what questions you still have. Now using your questions, you can start to think about evidence and research you would do to answer those questions. With enough practice, you will be able to write about stories without going for the obvious or overused narrative.
Tip #4: Always Be Ready for Anything
When you are just starting out, your going to be given the stories that no one else wants to write or even deal with, that means anything can happen. Make sure you have extra of whatever you think you need, even if you just keep it in your car, you won’t regret bringing more than is necessary, but you will regret bringing less. It’s always those times when you think you won’t need something that turns out to be the moment you need it the most.
Tip #5: Keep Track of Your Ideas
Write down new story ideas each time one comes to you and constantly be on the lookout for new inspiration. If you jot down your ideas each time they pop into your head, you’ll have a personal resource to pull from and a way to remember half thought out stories to be refined at a later time. Not just anything can be a story, so if you keep track of all your ideas you’ll also be able to sort through ideas that won’t have a big enough impact and enhance those that will. That journal or notebook will become your new best friend.
There you go! You now have five tips to start you off on your journey to become a great journalist!