Saturday, April 21, 2012

My best to tip? Never confuse journalism with brain surgery

What's the best tip you could give to an aspiring journalist?

Just do it. Last year, fed up with inflated CVs and clunky application letters, I asked for applications via Twitter. 140 characters to sell yourself and then we’ll go from there. I had more than 500 responses, including the very nice lady who wanted to be the Essex Chronicle’s correspondent in Bolivia, and tried out a range of people in various newsrooms.
But what struck me most about the majority of the applicants was that they hadn’t actually done anything. No blog, no website, no contribution to other media. Just a ‘burning desire’ to be a journalist with the ‘hunger and ambition’ to succeed.
Yes, it’s true that there are plenty of ‘qualified’ journalists out there, but there aren’t many who are any good. Journalism isn’t brain surgery; you don’t need any special equipment or specialist knowledge and it’s unlikely that anyone’s going to die if you get it wrong.
So, aspiring journalist, when you’re looking for a job assemble your work in one place on a blog or website and in your CV and covering letter link to published work. Don’t tell me what you can do, show me what you’ve done.

An extract from 'Six of the Best', a feature for the upcoming issue of Press Gazette