Thursday, 29 August 2013

If you REALLY want to be a journalist - you need the answers to these 10 questions

Usually on the Multimedia Journalism site we concentrate on how to do journalism

How to be a better reporter, video editor, podcaster or whatever

This time I want to look at something different.
Something that comes before all of the 'how to do it'.
It's the 'do you really want to do it?'
It's about the state of journalism today.
So I'm posing and answering 10 key questions.
The answers are designed to fully inform you about the state of the journalism trade today in the US and the UK.
I'll lay my cards on the table right now - I think we are at the start of a golden age of journalism.
I say that because it's never been easier to do journalism: to create and publish high-quality multimedia content.
Getting good at it is the hard part, and is what the MMJ course of learning is all about.
But there are also some stark facts that anyone considering spending a lot of time and money studying journalism ought to know about before they commit themselves.
For example: there are between 40,000 and 60,000 journalists working in the UK, depending on whose figures you believe (more on that here)
Yet, each year, around 15,000 students begin journalism degrees.
In the USA, the ratio of fresh graduates to working journalists is similarly scary.
So, no pressure there then.
This doesn't mean you'll never get a job in journalism, although in the UK, applications for journalism degrees plunged by 20 per cent in 2012, and only recovered by 1.4 per cent in 2013. 
What the tough employment market does mean is that you need to be really well trained, qualified and prepared if you are to stand a chance.
You need to be well-informed about where the jobs are, and how to equip yourself for a career in journalism.
So in this masterclass we look at these things:
  • How many jobs there are and what percentage of journalism students get one
  • Where those jobs are in the various branches of the media - newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, online and in brand journalism
  • The qualifications and experience you need to be a serious candidate
and other key questions.
Along the way we'll link to further information and resources - so, for example, in the module on what experience you need we link to a rich resource of advice on getting work experience and internships and on building up an impressive portfolio of published and/or broadcast work.

Next: How many jobs are there? How hard is it to get one?

Friday, 9 August 2013

8 things every new journalism student must learn to do before they start their course

T-shirt: customised at zazzle

You’ve probably got a pretty daunting reading list that you know you ought to plough your way through

But nobody does that. And you don’t need to.

What you do need to do now, if you want to be ahead of the game when your course starts, is learn some essentials.
Here are eight things that, if you tackle them now, mean you’ll find the first few weeks of your course plain sailing.
You’ll find a short explanation of each item on this screen, plus links so you can find out more.
The links go either to further screens in this masterclasses, or out to other resources in the MMJ project.
Some are outside the paywall, for others you’ll need to become a registered user to gain access. To do that, you need to buy the book in print or ebook form. You can do that here for the USA, here for the UK.

1 Learn to write a news story following the inverted triangle method

That means, knowing that every story must answer these six essential questions about the event you are reporting on:
Who   What   When
Where   Why   How
And these questions need to be answered in a structure we call the inverted triangle or pyramid, which has these four elements within it:

You’ll find a detailed demonstration of how such a story is written in this masterclasses, on the screen called Learn to write a news story following the inverted triangle method
Plus there are loads of real-life examples of how news stories are written in Chapter 1 of the print/ebook versios of Multimedia Journalism, with supporting links and material on the immersive website here.

2 Develop a beat or specialism

The days of the generalist are over. Being a bog-standard news reporter is a dead end job when so much general news is available, and when such a low price is put on it.
To offer value, and material that people are prepared to pay for, you need to become an expert in a particular field - to cover what we call a beat, or specialism.
That might be movies, music or fashion. It could be health, education or politics.
Maybe you have no idea what specialism to choose.
If so, just pick a subject – ideally something you are passionate about – and make covering that area your way of learning to be a good journalist.
We’ve covered 12 specialisms in depth in previous MMJ masterclasses. You’ll find an introduction to them, plus advice on how to choose a specialism and how to begin covering it here.

3 Begin to develop your personal brand

There has been a fundamental shift in the way journalists establish themselves as reliable, authoritative reporters and commentators.
In Post Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present, Clay Shirky, Emily Bell and CW Anderson said this:
“[There is] a new reality for journalism school grads in which the first step in their careers will not be to tie their reputation to an established media institution, as they might have in the past, but to create their own reputation.
“Already, journalism schools are more like film schools than law schools, which is to say that the relative success or failure of a J-School grad is going to be far more variable than it used to be
“There are fewer entry-level jobs than there used to be.
“Like film school graduates, they will have to go out into the world and create a name for themselves. It's a far less predictable environment and the career paths are less clear.’”
We take a look at doing that in this masterclasses on How to build your personal brand.

Read the other 5 essentials here: Multimedia Journalism Masterclass 58