Nine Astoundingly Beneficial Tips on Being a World-Class Journalist
Jon Aitken lists some important things to think about when writing an article.
Yes, I know, the level of professionalism you’ve already seen on this website is far beyond the expectations of four 20-something journalists. And I agree, the fact that we’ve developed this approach in only two and half weeks is incredible; thank you.
That being said, it’d be immodest of me to think we can never stop improving, so last week we met up with the lovely Kieran Yates to have a chat about journalism. Turns out – what with being a published writer and all – she knows her stuff. Here are some key points to remember:
1. You have a voice.
It’s yours. Your own. Can I stress that any more? You probably have your own – not so little – view of the world and definitely a position in it: if you want to share your experiences, GO FOR IT.
2. You are your own social networking hub.
You talk to other humans, right? What do you chat about? Start researching what the people around you are saying – that’s what they currently find the most important and want to hear more about. Politics or makeup?
3. Ask yourself why they find it important.
And why do they talk to you about it. Do they think you will have the same opinion on last night’s TOWIE or maybe they know you spent the rest of the night feverishly deconstructing it from a feminist view-point?
4. Aim high.
Of course the piece you want to write involves one of the world’s biggest athletes, why not? Talk to their people and sell yourself, it could happen and it has happened, but if it doesn’t:
5. Let It Go.
We actually had a lengthy chat about this song and its cultural impact on society but this is not the time to repeat it: however, it is important to let go of an idea if it isn’t working and adapt to the situation at hand. Perhaps you won’t get that A-list celeb after all, but maybe his or her publicist has someone else who could be just as suitable.
(Obviously, you will be aware of ‘Let It Go’ but on the off-chance that you have been living under a rock for the last few months here is the video below – maybe have it playing for the rest of the article, just a suggestion..)
Don’t be the interviewer who asks rubbish questions and then starts making weird guttural noises when your interviewee replies with one word answers and your list of things to ask dries up instantaneously. You are correct in assuming that this happened to me recently. Instead, you could get some solid questions in mind and dig for the answers that would really complement the angle you’re taking.
7. Be honest.
If you’re not a 17-year-old boy then don’t write from the perspective of one. People will be able to tell and you immediately lose authenticity, plus it’s just really, really weird.
8. Everybody starts somewhere.
We live in a world where anyone with an Internet connection can publish their stuff. Think positively about this: there may be more competition for hits but at least you didn’t have to go to every newspaper you can imagine (count them, in your head – right now) and get rejected every single time.
9. Believe in the story you’re telling.
If you don’t want to tell the story then don’t. Genuine passion can turn the driest of articles into something juicy, nourished and damp (ok, sorry) but most of all interesting. Then you’ve hit gold.
Got any insights into the world of journalism or even more tips to share? Tweet me @jonbehere.
These points are taken from a discussion on journalism with Kieran Yates and Watershed. She is a freelance journalist and writes regularly for The Guardian, Noisey and Metro. She also runs her own blog and has co-authored a book about the 2011 London riots. Follow her at @Kieran_Yates